Arrau started to play the piano as a boy and was giving concerts at the age of 5. The Chilean government heard of the child prodigy and quickly organized to have him sent to Germany to study with the best music teachers. At the age of 7 Arrau started serious study of music in Germany at the Stern Conservatory, Berlin.
Later in life Arrau became an important teacher of the piano and taught some of the most famous pianists in the world. Arrau married Ruth Schneider, an opera singer, and settled in the United States. Throughout his career he won the highest awards for piano playing. He died in Austria in 1991.