Pirogov was born in the village of Novosyolki, one of five sons of a musical father. Four of the five brothers became singers, most notably Grigory, also a bass.
From 1924 through 1954, he was one of the main bass soloists of the Bolshoi Theatre along with Mark Reizen, and Maxim Mikhailov. He recorded under Samuil Samosud, Alexander Melik-Pashayev, Aleksandr Gauk, Nikolai Golovanov, and Vassili Nebolsin.
In 1955, he played Boris Godunov in a film version, winning a medal in Italy. In 1954 he made his only performance outside the Soviet Union singing the role of Boris Godunov in Finnish National Opera in Helsinki.