He began studying under Isabelle Vengerova at the Curtis Institute of Music when he was seven.
His playing was challenged in 1979 after a sprain in the right ring finger, possibly caused by focal dystonia, forced him to stop using his right hand completely.
His parents were of Russian-Jewish origin. His talent for the piano became evident when he was three.
He and conductor Leonard Bernstein recorded Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1964 with the New York Philharmonic.