L’hiver 1835-1836, il suit des études de composition à Vienne chez Simon Sechter, et à Paris avec Antoine Reicha. Sa première composition, publiée plus tard comme Concerto no 2, date de cette période. Après un voyage en Amérique en 1843-1844, il se marie la même année avec la pianiste viennoise Josephine Vieuxtemps: Sa Vie, Ses Œuvres PDF. Deux ans plus tard, il part pour six ans en Russie, comme musicien à la Cour de Nicolas Ier, et comme soliste au Théâtre impérial.
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