Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, he graduated from Tbilisi State Conservatory in 1927 and Leningrad Conservatory in 1931, where he studied with Pyotr Ryazanov. Upon his return to Georgia, he became the musical director of several theatres from 1931 to 1934. Having barely survived Stalin's purges, he became a professor at the Tbilisi Conservatory in 1942 and served as an artistic director of the Georgian State Symphony from 1941 to 1948. He became a major influence in musical politics as chair (1953), and first secretary (1955-61, 1968-72) of the Union of Georgian Composers. Balanchivadze’s numerous symphonies, pianoforte concerts, and compositions for the stage heavily contributed to modern Georgian classical music. He also authored the first Georgian ballet The Heart of the Mountains (1936).
He was granted the titles of the People's Artist of Georgia (1957) and of the Soviet Union (1968) and awarded with several prizes, including the USSR State Prize in 1944 and the Shota Rustaveli State Prize in 1969.