Ohlsson began his studies at the age of eight at the Music Conservatory of Westchester in White Plains and, at the age of 13, began studying at the Juilliard School. His musical development has been influenced in completely different ways by a succession of distinguished teachers, most notably Claudio Arrau, Olga Barabini, Tom Lishman, Sascha Gorodnitzki, Rosina Lhévinne and Irma Wolpe. Although Ohlsson is especially noted for his performances of the works of Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, Franz Liszt, and Schubert, he has a broad range from Bach and Busoni to Copland, Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Claude Debussy, Gershwin and contemporary composers who have written new works for him, such as Justin Dello Joio. Writing in The New York Times, music critic Allan Kozinn has characterized Ohlsson's repertory as "huge."
Ohlsson has performed in North America with symphony orchestras of Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Houston, Detroit, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, Washington D.C., and Berkeley; and the National Arts Centre, St. Paul Chamber, and the London Philharmonic at Lincoln Center.
Ohlsson is an avid chamber musician and has collaborated with the Cleveland, Emerson, Takács and Tokyo string quartets, among other ensembles. In 2005-2006, Ohlsson toured with the Takács Quartet. Ohlsson is also a founding member of San Francisco's FOG Trio, together with violinist Jorja Fleezanis and cellist Michael Grebanier.
In 2006-2007, he opened the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York. He has also performed at the BBC Proms with the Budapest Festival Orchestra. In 2010, he visited Australia and gave concerts in Melbourne.
Among his many recordings, Ohlsson undertook a survey of Chopin's complete piano music—including sonatas, preludes, etudes, ballades, rondos, scherzos, variations, polonaises, nocturnes, waltzes, mazurkas, concertos, and others. In 1989, he recorded Busoni's five movement Piano Concerto in C major, Op. 39 with the Cleveland Orchestra under Christoph von Dohnányi. Ohlsson has also recorded all of the Beethoven piano sonatas for Bridge Records.
Ohlsson possesses an unusually vast repertoire that ranges over some eighty concertos. He is also known for his exceptional keyboard stretch (a 12th in the left hand and an 11th in the right).
Ohlsson made an appearance on "The Dick Cavett Show" on November 14, 1971 where he also performed a piano piece. The show also featured actor/singer Sammy Davis Jr., and young "Family Affair" actress Anissa Jones.First Prize, 1966 Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition, Bolzano
First Prize, 1968 Montreal Piano Competition
Gold Medal, 1970 International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition, Warsaw
Avery Fisher Prize, 1994
Grammy Award, 2008
Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance, 2014, Northwestern University
Garrick Ohlsson has recorded with the following labels:Arabesque Recordings
RCA Red Seal Records
Hyperion Records - Complete works of Chopin