David Helfgott was born in Melbourne and grew up in Perth. In his teens he won the State Final of the ABC's Instrumental & Vocal Competition on six separate occasions, and later studied at the Royal College of Music in London. In 1970 illness overtook him and he returned to Perth and a decade of obscurity. He emerged in the 1980's, giving his first recital for twelve years in 1984 and has been in constant demand ever since, appearing all around the world as a recitalist and concerto soloist.

His performance of Rachmaninov's Concerto No.3 with the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra, was released by RCA Victor/BMG Classics during 1996 and has risen to the top of both the Australian and international classical and pop music recording charts.

In 1996 and 1997 the worldwide release of the multi-award winning film, "Shine", based on his life came out and since that time, he has enjoyed an international popularity and success rarely achieved by any other classical music artist.