Alexandre Tharaud discovered the music scene through his mother who was a dance professeur at the Opéra de Paris, and his father, an amateur director and singer of operettas. Tharaud thus appeared as a child in theatres around northern France, where the family spent many weekends. His grandfather was a violinist in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. At the initiative of his parents, Alexandre started his piano studies at the age of five, and he entered Conservatory of the 14th Arrondissement, where his teacher was Carmen Taccon-Devenat, a student of Marguerite Long.
He entered the Conservatoire de Paris at age 14 where he won first prize for piano in the class of Germaine Mounier when he was 17 years old. With Theodor Paraskivesco, he mastered the piano, and he sought and received the advice of Claude Helffer, Leon Fleisher and Nikita Magaloff. In 1987, he won third prize at the International Maria Canals Competition in Barcelona and, a year later, the Senigallia Competition in Italy. In 1989, he received 2nd prize at the Munich International Competition. His career developed quickly in Europe as well as in North America and Japan.
In 2009, he took part in a show devoted to Erik Satie with actor with François Morel. Alongside the singer Juliette, he organised a Satie Day at the Cité de la musique, recorded for France Télévisions. He has also worked with the French composer Thierry Pécou, giving the première of his first piano concerto in October 2006 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and later recording it.
In 2012, Tharaud took part in the French cinema film Amour by Michael Haneke where he played himself, alongside Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva and Isabelle Huppert, although he said that it would not be the start of a film career for him.
The New York Times described his Bach playing at a recital in 2005 as "crisply articulated and vividly etched".
Method of work
Tharaud refuses to keep his piano in his house because of his belief that he will begin to prefer the pleasure of improvisation to the necessity of rigorous work. He prefers to practice on different instruments at friends' houses. He also composes but usually keeps this activity in the background. Before each recording he goes and lays flowers at the tomb of Chabrier in the Montparnasse cemetery. When asked what a camera would record if it were present at his recording sessions, he replied that he sings, shouts, dances, and argues with the piano ("absurd behaviour - comportements ridicules").
- Bach, Italian Concertos, Harmonia Mundi, 2005
- Bach, Keyboard concertos, Virgin Classics, 2011
- Emmanuel Chabrier, Complete works for piano, Arion, 2007
- Chopin, Préludes opus 28, Harmonia Mundi, 2008
- Chopin, Journal intime, Virgin Classics, 2009
- Couperin, Tic toc choc, Harmonia Mundi, 2007
- Chopin, Intégrale des valses, Harmonia Mundi, 2010
- Grieg Lyric pieces 1993 Disques Dante
- Kagel, Æon, 2003 ; re-issued, Rewind, 2012
- Milhaud, Saudades do Brazil, La muse ménagère, L'album de Madame Bovary (with Madeleine Milhaud), Naxos
- Thierry Pécou, Outre-mémoire, with the ensemble Zellig, Æon
- Thierry Pécou, l'Oiseau innumérable, Harmonia Mundi, 2008
- Poulenc, survey of the chamber music (Sextet, Sonatas with piano for oboe, flute, violin, clarinet, cello), Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano, works for two pianos and piano four hands, Le Bal masqué (with Franck Leguerinel, baritone), L'histoire de Babar (French version with François Mouzaya; English version with Natasha Emerson), L'Invitation au Château and Léocadia (with Danielle Darrieux)) for Naxos France
- Poulenc, Debussy, Complete works for cello and piano, with Jean-Guihen Queyras, Harmonia Mundi, 2008
- Poulenc, Pièces pour piano, Arion, 2008
- Rameau, Suites en la et en sol, Harmonia Mundi, 2001
- Ravel, Complete works for piano, Harmonia Mundi, 2003
- Satie, Avant-dernières pensées, Harmonia Mundi, 2009
- Scarlatti, Alexandre Tharaud plays Scarlatti, Virgin Classics, 2011
- Franz Schubert, Moments Musicaux, Sonata D.664, Deutsche D.783, Arion, 2000
- Schubert, Divertissement à la hongroise, with Zhu Xiao-Mei, Harmonia Mundi, 2003
- Schubert, Arpegione Sonata, with Jean-Guihen Queyras, Harmonia Mundi, 2006
- Schubert, complete works for piano four-hands, with Zhu Xiao-Mei
- Autograph (2013)
- Boulez, Messiaen, Jolivet, Dutilleux, Varèse, Musique du XXe pour flûte et piano, with Philippe Bernold, Harmonia Mundi, 2008
- Soundtrack of the film Amour (film of Michael Haneke). Franz Schubert, Beethoven, Bach. Virgin Classics, 2012
- Le Bœuf sur le toit. With Juliette, Madeleine Peyroux, Natalie Dessay, Bénabar, Guillaume Gallienne, Jean Delescluse, Frank Braley. Virgin Classics, 2012
- 2012: Amour - Himself
- En couverture: Alexandre Tharaud – Le métier de vivre. Interview with Nicolas Baron. Diapason 589, March 2011, p24-28.
- Télérama, n° 3083 du 11 février 2009, p. 14. Propos recueillis par Bernard Mérigaud
- Interview with Alexandre Tharaud by Elizabeth Davis, 2012, on Classical Music . com website, accessed 4 December 2013.
- Une collaboration avait déjà réuni les deux artistes en 2001 lors d'une journée « Satie » dans le cadre du festival de l'Epau 
- En couverture: Alexandre Tharaud. Interview with Vincent Agrech. Diapason, no 556, March 2008, p26-29.
- Interpreting Bach's Interpretation of Contemporaries by Allan Kozinn Published: March 25, 2005, accessed 4 December 2013.
- Alexandre Tharaud : l'étoile solaire, entretien avec Franck Mallet, Classica Repertoire, mars 2007, p 44-47
- Lire interview sur Ramifications.be