Henrique Oswald (1852-1931) was born in Rio de Janeiro. His father was a Swiss-German immigrant and his mother from Italy. In 1854 the Oswald family moved to São Paulo. His mother taught music privately to aristocrats and by age twelve he had his first recital. In São Paulo, he also studied with Gabriel Guiraudon. His "farewell recital" occurred at age 16, after this he went to study in Europe.
He studied in Europe and spent several years in Florence. In 1902 he won a piano composition competition sponsored by Le Figaro with a piece Il neige!.. ('It snows'). He then left his family in Europe (they moved to Brazil much later) and from 1903 to 1906 directed the instituto nacional de Musica in rio de janeiro. He also served as Brazilian consul in both the hague and Genoa.
Oswald's best-known compositions today are numerous small pieces for piano (usually arranged by him into small collections). However, he was a prolific composer of chamber music: his list includes a violin sonata, 2 cello sonatas (op. 21, and op. 44), 3 piano trios, 2 piano quartets (Op. 5 and op.26), a piano quintet (op. 18), 4 string quartets (Op. 16, Op. 17, op. 39, op. 46) and a string octet. For orchestra he wrote a suite, a sinfonietta and a symphony. There are also two concertos by him, one for piano, another for violin. Concerning vocal music, he composed three operas (la croce de oro, il neo, and le fate), a mass and a requiem. By the time of his death, his major works remained unpublished, a fact that contributed much to the neglect of his for half a century.