Regarded as one of Russia's greatest pianists. He was popular in the U.S. even at the height of tensions during the Cold War.
He first gained international acclaim when he won the Gold Medal at the 1966 International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition by unanimous vote of the jury.
His prolific U.S. touring career of the 1970s was hindered in the 1980s by the Cold War, especially when the two countries terminated all cultural agreements.
His family recognized his talents early on, and he began taking lessons at age five and enrolled in Leningrad Conservatory when he was seven.
He considered Anton Rubinstein to be among his greatest inspirations.