Born in 1974, in Chelyabinsk, a city in the Urals bordering Siberia, Lera Auerbach became one of the last artists to defect from the Soviet Union during a concert tour in 1991, while still in her teens. She subsequently earned Bachelor and Master’s degrees from The Juilliard School, where she studied piano with Joseph Kalichstein and composition with Milton Babbit and Robert Beaser. In 2002 she graduated from the prestigious piano soloist program of the Hannover Hochschüle für Musik.
In 2000 and 2004, Auerbach was invited by the International Johannes Brahms Foundation to live and work at the composer’s former home in Baden-Baden as the Artist-in-Residence. She has since been Composer-in-Residence and guest artist at the Lockenhaus Festival in Austria (2001), where twelve of her works were premiered; Composer-in-Residence with the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa in Japan; and with the American Youth Symphony in Los Angeles (2003). She is currently Composer-in-Residence at the Bremen Music Festival and was awarded the “Förderpreis Deutschlandfunk“ in recognition of this residency.
Lera Auerbach has appeared as solo pianist at such prestigious venues as the Bolshoi Saal of Moscow Conservatory, Tokyo’s Opera City, New York’s Lincoln Center, Munich's Herkulessaal, Oslo's Konzerthaus, Chicago’s Symphony Hall and Washington's Kennedy Center. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in May 2002 and her music has been presented there each season since then.
As well as being a virtuoso pianist and one of the most widely performed composers of the new generation, Auerbach has also achieved recognition for her writing. In 1996, she was named Poet of the Year by the International Pushkin Society. Her literary works include 5 volumes of poetry and prose and numerous contributions to Russian-language literary papers and magazines. Her poetry is taught in Russian schools and universities as required reading for modern literature courses.