The artist’s father was an historian named Glazunov Sergey Fedorovich. His mother's name was Glazunova Olga Konstantinovna. Ilya Glazunov survived World War II, in part because in 1942, then-eleven-year-old Ilya was transported from besieged Leningrad along the Road of Life. He stayed in the village of Greblo in the Novgorod region after his entire family perished from starvation. In 1944, he returned to Leningrad and studied in the secondary art school. From 1951 to 1957 he studied art under the direction of Professor Boris Ioganson.
In 1956, he married the love of his life, Nina Vinogradova-Benois. He painted the image of Nina in many of his works. Nina Aleksandrovna was a descendant of the Benois family, a familiar name art history. Her uncle was the artistic director of the La Scala Opera for 30 years.
Glazunov's success at the International competition of Young Artists in Prague prompted the opening of his first single exhibition in Moscow. Soon after in the 1960s, he traveled to Italy for the first time to paint the portrait of many famous actors and actress, among all Gina Lollobrigida and Anita Ekberg. In 1978, Glazunov started teaching in the Moscow University of Art. Their children Ivan and Vera have both become artists. His wife died in 1986.
- The Great Experiment. Glazunov's epic canvas on Russia in the 20th century.