His international career began in 1976 when he recorded a piece written for Senneville's daughter Adeline  as a commissioned pianist for the French producer duo Olivier Toussaint and Paul de Senneville. For the publication of this piece, called "Ballade pour Adeline", he adopted the stage name Richard Clayderman, as a reminiscence to his great-grandmother, but above all to avoid mispronouncing his real name.
The single sold over 22 million copies in 38 states. Since then he has sold over 70 million records worldwide and achieved more than 270 gold records and 70 platinum awards. His catchy, light style established him as a representative of popular classical music, but also gave many critics scope to describe his skills as "merely commercial" and "sufficient only for shallow pop entertainment". Despite this, he is very successful in the field of entertainment.