Kempff studied at the Conservatory of Berlin at the Karl Heinrich Barth piano teachers and later with Robert Kahn composition. In 1917 he won two Mendelssohn prices, both for acoustic piano for composition. After completing his graduation he occur at an early age as a soloist both on piano and organ. He was given name as interpreter of the classical and romantic repertoire and was famous as interpreter of Schubert, Brahms , among others, and especially Beethoven, whose sonatas for piano solo Kempff all recorded on Gramophone records, and later those of Schubert. In 1970 he laid with Yehudi Menuhin all violin sonatas of Beethoven. He was famous for its bright toucher.
In 1924 , he was appointed Director of the Württembergische Hochschule für Musik in Stuttgart which function he held until 1932[source? ]would perform. After his appearances brought him in four continents. In 1932 he was elected member of the Akademie der Künste. In 1950 he moved to Italy where he in Positano from 1957 the leadership would have an annual course on the music of Beethoven. His final public appearance as a soloist took place in 1981 in Paris.
- Were eines Musikers, Das Unter dem Zimbelstern (1951; autobiogr.)
- Was ich hörte, was ich sah (1981)