Vladimir Feltsman debuted with the Moscow Philharmonic at age 11. He studied at the Moscow Tchaikovsky, Moscow, and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) Conservatories and went on to win the Grand Prix at the Marguerite Long International Piano Competition in Paris. In 1979, because of his growing discontent with the official Soviet ideology and rigid governmental control of the arts, Feltsman applied for an exit visa from the Soviet Union. In response, he was immediately banned from performing in public. After eight years of struggle and virtual artistic exile, he was finally granted permission to leave the Soviet Union. Upon his arrival in the United States in 1987, Vladimir Feltsman was warmly greeted at the White House, where he performed his very first concert in North America. That same year his debut at Carnegie Hall established him as a major pianist on the American scene.