Paul Lewis was born in Liverpool, England, on May 20, 1972. Though he preferred the piano as a precocious child, he first studied the cello because his school lacked a piano teacher. From about age 10 he took piano lessons and at 14 enrolled at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester, where his teachers included Ryszard Bakst.
He had later studies at Guildhall School of Music in London and master classes with Alfred Brendel, who befriended him and gave him private instruction. Following graduation, Lewis steadily built his concert career while also branching out into teaching: in 2000 he was appointed professor of piano at London's Royal Academy of Music. Lewis' first important recordings appeared in 2003: a CD of Schubert sonatas entitled Les Dernières Sonates on Harmonia Mundi; and a Hyperion disc of Mozart quartets, with the Leopold String Trio. To coincide with the release of his complete Beethoven piano sonatas on Harmonia Mundi (issued from 2005-2008), Lewis toured the U.S. and Europe extensively from 2005-2007, giving critically acclaimed performances of all 32 masterworks. The final volume in the Harmonia Mundi series, containing sonatas 5, 6, 7, 15, 19, 20, 26, 30, 31, and 32, received the prestigious Gramophone Best Recording of the Year award in 2008. Over the summer, 2010 Lewis performed all five Beethoven piano concertos in BBC broadcast concerts, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall in London, becoming the first pianist ever to do the entire cycle at the Proms in a single season. Among Lewis' later recordings is the 2010 Hyperion CD of Schubert piano duets, with fellow virtuoso Steven Osborne. Lewis' busy, globe-hopping 2011 schedule included recitals in London, Liverpool, New York, Chicago, Boston, Perth, Milan, Berlin, Rotterdam, and Tokyo in repertory largely by Schubert.