The pianist talks about growing up in transit, maestros he’s loved, and what he’d like to do to certain audiences.

So how did you come to study piano? 

That’s a very simple and unexciting story. In those days a lot of people had little pianos, just small uprights. I was seven years old and I started like everyone else. That was in Lvov, which is now the Ukraine, but at the time was the Soviet Union, and my parents were Polish. We then moved around a lot. I remember Warsaw very well, and Canada. I wound up in New York at the age of 12. I was just a kid but I had wonderful, wonderful ladies who taught me. They were extremely nice people. Just making kids feel that something is fun and serious at the same time is probably the hardest thing in the world. I was always very lucky with my teachers.

So did you get to listen to other pianists? 

Oh sure. I heard the young Vladimir Ashkenazy. I think he was the first pianist I ever heard in a concert. I was five and he was 15. That was in Lvov. And in Warsaw I think I...