Krainev was born in Krasnoyarsk, the son of musician Vsevolod Krainev and pediatrician Rachil Gerschoig. He studied at the Central School of the Moscow Conservatory in the class of Anaida Sumbatyan, and also studied at the Conservatory in the classes of Heinrich Neuhaus, and his son, Stanislav Neuhaus. After winning second prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition and first prize at the Vianna da Motta International Music Competition (ex-aequo with Nelson Freire), and especially after his victory at the ninth International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow (first prize ex-aequo with John Lill), his career as a pianist began. He performed with some of the world's leading orchestras and conductors, and collaborated with renowned artists throughout the world. Alfred Schnittke dedicated one of his piano concertos to him. International music festivals known as "The Invitation of Vladimir Krainev" were held each year in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, and concerts called "Vladimir Krainev: his Friends and Pupils" were given annually at the Moscow Conservatory. Krainev was a jury member of many international piano competitions, for instance: Leeds, Lisbon, and Tokyo, as well as the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Vladimir Krainev was a professor at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hannover, Germany, where 29 young pianists from the People's Republic of China, France, Germany, Korea, Russia, Ukraine, and other countries studied with him. Among his students were Katia Skanavi, Vladimir Sverdlov, Igor Tchetuev, Aglika Genova and Liuben Dimitrov, Pascal Godart, Alexandre Moutouzkine, Irma Issakadze, Denys Proshayev, Hisako Kawamura, Dong-Min Lim, Ilya Rashkovsky, Mariya Kim, Ingmar Lazar, Paul Kern and Sun Ho Lee. In 1992, Krainev organized the first international competition of young pianists in Kharkiv, Ukraine. He lived in Hanover, Germany, and was married to Tatiana Tarasova, a renowned figure skating coach, who trained the winners of nine Olympic gold medals. On 29 April 2011 Krainev died in his house in Hanover, aged 67.
The first V.Krainev Competition for young pianists was held in March 1992 in the city of Kharkiv on the initiative of the faculty of Kharkiv Special Secondary Music Boarding School. The idea was supported by Volodymyr Krainev, an outstanding modern pianist.90 young musicians from 12 countries took part in the first competition.The organizing Committee made a decision to hold the competition once every two years in Kharkiv during the last decade of March.
In 1994 about 70 competitors participated in the competition, which had three stages. For the first time the finalists of the competition performed the programme of the third stage with the symphony orchestra.
In March 1996 more than 90 participants from 10 countries took part in the third competition.
In 1997 the Competition joined the European Union of Music Competitions for Youth (EMCY). It was an important event for Vladimir Krainev Competition as it promoted the competition, made it well-known to young musicians.
The fourth Competition was held in March 1998. One hundred young pianists arrived from 14 countries to take part in the Competition. Since 1998 the firm “YAMAHA” has given its grand piano for the competition.
The fifth V.Krainev International Competition took place in March 2000. More than 80 young musicians from 16 countries became participants of the Competition.
A hundred young musicians, from 12 countries came to Kharkov to participate in 6 th International Competition in 2002.
60 young pianists from 11 countries came to participate in the 7 th competition in 2004.
94 young pianists from 13 countries came to participate in the 8 th competition in 2006.
46 young pianists from 13 countries came to participate in the 9 th competition in 2008
52 young pianists from 9 countries came to participate in the 10 th competition in 2010.
37 pianists from 8 countries particapated in the competition 2012, unfortunately, Volodymyr Krainev was not with us.
In 2016 to the regulations of the competition was added the nomination «Debut». In this nomination the participants performed the program of one stage.53 young pianists from 4 countries came to participate in the 12 th competition.