Joseph Wölfl, once a popular composer and pianist, hailed from Salzburg. When Wölfl was born in 1773 his brilliant countryman Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was employed by the archbishop of Salzburg. The young composer had the good fortune to study with Mozart’s father Leopold and also with the brother of another Viennese classic composer, Michael Haydn. After receiving an excellent professional training Wölfl became a versatile musician. As a pianist he took part in competitions with Beethoven – according to Seyfried, these ‘duels between two giants’ gave the listening public extraordinary satisfaction, while as a composer Wölfl wrote masterpieces in every genre, showing exceptional diversity of style.
Like Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, he was unable to resist the cultural magnetism of the Imperial capital. At the age of seventeen Wölfl declared his independence by setting off for Vienna to see Mozart. Quite possibly the latter showed sincere concern for the fate of his young countryman, for it was apparently under Mozart’s protection that Wölfl found employment with Count Oginski and moved to Warsaw. Here he began his concert performances and soon gained a reputation as an outstanding pianist.