Born in Leningrad on 26 February 1930, the Russian pianist Lazar Berman began early - at the age of two - with piano lessons from his mother, and from age three he studied with Samary Savshinsky at the Leningrad Conservatory, giving his recital début at the age of four. In 1939 his family moved to Moscow and he studied at the Central Children's Music School, and then at the Moscow Conservatory. The following year he was performing with the Moscow Philharmonic.
Berman came fifth in the Queen Elizabeth International Piano Competition in Brussels in 1956, but was shortly afterwards confined to the Soviet bloc until 1976, when he was able to impress audiences in the west and perform with conductors such as Karajan and Bernstein.
Berman died in Florence on 6 February 2005, aged seventy-four.