Giuseppe Martucci was a child prodigy. He gave his first piano recital when he was eight and then studied at the Naples Conservatoire. From 1870 on, he devoted his life to teaching and performing. Rubinstein and Liszt both thought very highly of him.
Between 1875 and 1880 he played in many European cities, often accompanying the cellist Alfredo Piatti. Regarded as one of the leading pianists of his day, he taught at the Naples Conservatoire from 1880 and was director of the Societa del Quartetto as well as conductor of the Societa Sinfonica orchestra which had been founded by the Prince of Ardore. During this period he was also active as a composer.