Gutiérrez was born in Havana, Cuba, the eldest of four children, to Tomás V. Gutiérrez and Josefina Fernandez Gutiérrez. His mother was his first piano teacher, and was herself an accomplished pianist. His first formal teacher was César Pérez Sentenat. Gutiérrez began performing before audiences at four years of age, and at 11, performed as soloist with the Havana Symphony playing Haydn's D major concerto. When Fidel Castro gained control of Cuba in 1959, the family decided to leave the country together rather than send Gutiérrez abroad alone at a young age.
He moved with his family to the United States in 1961, at the age of 13, and studied in Los Angeles with Sergei Tarnowsky, Vladimir Horowitz's first teacher in Kiev, and later at the Juilliard School under Adele Marcus, a pupil of Russian pianist Josef Lhévinne. He later worked extensively with American pianist William Masselos, a pupil of Carl Friedberg, who himself had studied with Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms.
Frédéric Chopin is one of the greatest composers of the Romantic piano tradition. He was a master in making the small form great. His ballades, mazurkas, polonaises, preludes, etudes and nocturnes all belong to the most popular standard works for piano ever written.
As a child prodigy, Chopin grew up in a middle class family, who lived among the literati of Warsaw. When in 1830 the November Uprising broke out in Poland, the twenty year old Chopin stayed in Vienna. He became an exile and never returned to his mother country. He eventually settled in Paris.
He avoided public concerts, but he did like performing in small settings, such as salons and at home for his friends. This way, Chopin built a reputation as an exceptional pianist, teacher and composer.
Chopin brought a unique synthesis between the Viennese bravado and the French/English lyric style. Even though his pieces often are technically very demanding, the focus was always on creating a lyric expression and poetic atmosphere. He invented the instrumental ballade, and brought salongenres to a higher level with his many innovations and refinements.