Tatiana Nikolayeva was born in the Soviet Union in 1924. At age five, she began her piano studies with her mother, then became a pupil of Alexander Goldenweiser at the Moscow Conservatory, graduating in 1947. After winning first prize in piano at the 1950 Bach Bicentennial Festival in Leipzig, she launched a significant career in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. She began to teach at the Moscow Conservatory in 1959, achieving the rank of professor in 1965. Nikolayeva played many premieres, including the Twenty-four Preludes and Fugues of Dmitri Shostakovich. She assisted the composer during the composition of this major work, which she often performed in public (she gave its world premiere performance in 1952) and recorded on two occasions. She was also a prolific composer, producing her own symphonies, piano concertos, chamber music, and solo piano pieces.