Mitsuko Uchida was born in Atami, a seaside town near Tokyo, Japan. When she was 12 her father became the Japanese ambassador to Austria, so the family moved to Vienna. She studied at the Vienna Academy of Music. Her teachers were Richard Hauser, and later Wilhelm Kempff and Stefan Askenase. She gave her first recital when she was 14 in the Vienna Musikverein. After five years, her father went back to Japan, but she stayed in Vienna.
In 1969 she won the first prize in the Beethoven Competition in Vienna and in 1970 the second prize in the International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition. Then, in 1975, she won second prize in the Leeds Piano Competition.
Her career has been very successful. She played all the Mozart Piano Concertos with the Cleveland Orchestra. She is well known for her playing of the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Debussy and Schoenberg. Her recordings include all of Mozart's piano sonatas and concertos, and won many awards for her recordings.
Uchida now lives in London.