The Bulgarian-born French pianist Alexis Weissenberg was born into a Jewish family in Sofia on 26 July 1929. He began piano studies at three from composer Pancho Vladigerov, and first performed in public at eight. During World War II, Weissenberg and his mother were rescued from a Bulgarian concentration camp by a German guard, attracted to Weissenberg's playing of Schubert on an accordion, and they fled to Istanbul.
After the war they moved to Palestine, and Weissenberg studied with Leo Kestenberg and played Beethoven with Bernstein and the Israel Philharmonic. A year later he moved to New York to study with Olga Samaroff at Juilliard. Soon after, he performed Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 3 with George Szell and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Weissenberg died in Lugano, Switzerland, on 8 January 2012, aged 82, after suffering with Parkinson's disease for some years.