He began studies at Gakushuin and then Tokyo University of the Arts (formerly the Tokyo Music School). Studied piano with Leo Sirota and Paul Weingarten, and composition with Klaus Pringsheim. Graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts in 1937. Kazuo graduated at the top of his class.
After graduating from Tokyo University of the Arts in 1937, Yamada was briefly professor at Tokyo University of the Arts and then proceeded to Europe for further training in music. Studied composing and conducting under Pringsheim and Rosenstock. Belonged to the romantic school of music.