Pichl’s own list of his works includes twenty operas (four of them with his own Latin libretti), thirty masses, eighty-nine symphonies, thirty concertos, and huge body of chamber music, including 148 pieces which he wrote for Joseph Haydn’s employer, Prince Nicolaus I Esterhazy, to play on the baryton.
He was born of humble origins some sixty-five miles due south of Prague. He began his musical studies with Jan Pokorny, the local choir-master in Bechyne near Tabor. In 1753 he became a chorister at the Jesuit College in Breznice and attended Latin School there. In 1758 he entered St. Wenceslaus Seminary at Prague as a violinist.
In 1765 Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf hired Pichl as a violinist and as his assistant director. In 1769 Pichl returned to Prague and was appointed Kapellmeister to Count Ludwig Hartig. A year later he became a violinist at the Karntnerthor theater in Vienna. In 1775 Empress Maria Theresa appointed Pichl as Kapellmeister to her son Archduke Ferdinand, the Austrian Governor of Lombardy. He lived near Milan for nearly twenty years, and became the Director of opera buffa at Monza, north of Milan. The French invasion of Lombardy in 1796 forced him to return to Vienna where he spent the rest of his life. He died as the result of a stroke while playing a violin concerto in the Palais Lobkowitz.
The Symphony, 1720-1840, Barry S Brook, ed., Garland Publishing Inc., New York, 1986