Carl Ditters (later Baron von Dittersdorf) was one of the most prolific and versatile of the Viennese contemporaries of Haydn and Mozart. In his early professional career in Vienna, fascinatingly described in his autobiography (1799), Ditters was considered the leading violin virtuoso and performed regularly in concerts staged at the Burgtheater.
His compositions were also attracting favourable notice and by the early 1760s he was regarded, along with Hofmann, Haydn and Vanhal, as one of the leading lights in Viennese music. Although most of his career was spent working outside Vienna, isolated and somewhat removed from the main stream, Ditters's reputation did not suffer.
His instrumental music circulated widely and his vocal music, in particular his operas, operettas and Singspiels, enjoyed great popularity in Vienna and elsewhere. Through his patron's offices (Count Schaffgotsch, Prince-Bishop of Breslau) Ditters was created a Knight of the Golden Spur in 1770 and, two years later, was granted a certificate of nobility by the Empress Maria Theresia after which he adopted the additional surname 'von Dittersdorf'.
After the Prince-Bishop's death in 1795 Dittersdorf received a small pension barely sufficient for his needs. Handicapped by arthritis and short of money, he was offered lodgings by Baron Ignaz von Stillfried on his property in Bohemia remaining there with his family until his death on 24 October 1799.