Born in Russia, he made his Moscow debut as a pianist at the age of eight and won the second Tchaikovsky Competition there in 1962. As a pianist he has an extensive repertoire of concertos and recitals, many of which have been recorded. By the mid 1970s he had increased his activities as conductor, often directing many of the world's top orchestras. As well the recordings he has made with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra he has also recorded with the Royal Concertgebouw, Philharmonia, St Petersburg Philharmonic, and the Cleveland orchestras. During his time as Music Director of the RPO, he toured extensively with the Orchestra, including two concerts in Moscow, to the then-Soviet Union - his first visit for 26 years.