A German pianist and composer of Czech birth, Moscheles received a solid technical education on the piano at Prague Conservatory.
In 1808 he moved to Vienna to be near Beethoven, where he studied with Salieri and Albrechtsberger. A commission to prepare a piano reduction of Beethoven's Fidelio in 1814 secured his status as one of Vienna's most popular virtuoso pianists, a fame that brought him praise from composers he had studied, such as Clementi and J.B. Cramer. From 1825 to 1846 Moscheles taught piano at the Royal Academy of Music in London and played duets with Chopin and Mendelssohn. In 1846 he became principal professor of piano at the Leipzig Conservatory.
Known as one of the last great musicians of the classical school, Moscheles was a clear, precise technician on the keyboard. Although he admired Chopin and Liszt for their creativity and virtuosity, Moscheles found their improvisations to be showy and too decorative. His own were varied and full of atmosphere. Most of his own compositions were piano music, and his sonatas were the best of these. He also composed a number of concertos, and later in life turned to song writing. His work can be characterized by restraint and classical balance.