Born in Leipzig on March 15, 1944, Joachim Kühn gave his young-age debut as a concert pianist and studied classical piano and composition with Arthur Schmidt-Elsey. Influenced by his elder brother, clarinet-player Rolf Kühn, he simultaneously got interested in jazz and started leading traditional and mainstream combos very early. In 1961 he became a professional jazz musician. With a trio of his own, founded in 1964, he presented the first European-rooted free jazz in the GDR. In 1966 he did not return to his country from an international competition organized by Friedrich Gulda in Vienna.