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Homs was born in Barcelona, and studied cello until 1922. Afterwards, he self-educated himself in composition before studying on-and-off from 1931 to 1938. From 1930 to 1936 he studied composition with Roberto Gerhard (Menéndez Aleyxandre and Pizà 2001). He is regarded by one author as not just a Catalan, but also a Spanish composer (Menéndez Aleyxandre 1980), while another source names him only as Catalan (Menéndez Aleyxandre and Pizà 2001).
His early style was characterized by the use of free counterpoint, already moving towards atonality, and beginning in 1954 he began using twelve-tone technique. While his style remained loyal to modernism, his later works no longer adhered to strict twelve-note technique (Menéndez Aleyxandre and Pizà 2001).
He died at his home in Barcelona at the age of 97.
The personal papers of Joaquim Homs are preserved in the Biblioteca de Catalunya.
When asked by the British encyclopedia The World of Music in the mid-1950s[This quote needs a citation] what he considered to be his chief works, his answer was:
- Duet for Flute and Clarinet (1936)
- String Quartet No. 1 (1938)
- Violin sonata (1941)
- Sonata for oboe and bass clarinet (1942)
- Variations on a popular Catalonia theme (1943)
- String Quartets No. 2 (1949) and No. 3 (1950)
- Poem by J. Carner for voice and piano (1935)
- Four psalms for baritone and chamber orchestra (1939)
- Ten choral responses (1943)
- Choral Mass (1943)
- Rhymes for voice and piano (1950) (Anon. n.d.)
- Anon. n.d. "Chronological Summary". www.joaquimhoms.org (Accessed 16 September 2013).
- Casanovas, Josep, and Albert Llanas. 1996. Joaquim Homs. Barcelona: Proa. ISBN 84-8256-308-4.
- Homs, Joaquim. 1989. Records i reflexions des del darrer tram de camí. Barcelona: Reial Acadèmia Catalana de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi.
- Homs Fornesa, Piedad. 1988. Catálogo de obras de Joaquín Homs. Madrid: Fundación Juan March. ISBN 84-7075-390-8.
- Menéndez Aleyxandre, Antonio. 1980. [untitled article] The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Stanley Sadie. London: Macmillan,[page needed] ISBN 0-333-23111-2.
- Menéndez Aleyxandre, A[rtur], and Antoni Pizà. 2001. "Homs (Oller), Joaquim." The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
- Taverna-Bech, Francesc. 1994. Joaquim Homs.Madrid: Sociedad General de Autores de España.
- Taverna-Bech, Francesc. 2006. Centenari Joaquim Homs. Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya, Departament de Cultura. ISBN 84-393-7133-0.
- Temprano, Andrés. 1971. "Panorama actual de la musica religiosa española, VI. Joaquín Homs Oller". Tesoro Sacro Musical 54, no. 617 (April–June): 80–85.