Hugo Ulrich was a composer of great ability, whose life was wasted owing to adverse circumstances, and probably also to want of strength of character. His father was school-master at Oppeln. By 12 he had lost both his parents, and was thrown helpless on the world. He then got into the Gymnasium or Convict at Breslau; subsequently went to Glogau, and in 1846 to Berlin. From Mosewius, the excellent director of the University of Breslau, he had an introduction to Adolf-Bernhard Marx; but Ulrich had no money to pay the fees. With Meyerbeer's help, however, he became a pupil of Siegfried Wilhelm Dehn for two years, and then produced his Op. 1, a pianoforte trio, followed by two symphonies, all of which cxcited much attention. The B minor symphony (1852) went the round of Germany, and the Symphonie triomphale obtained the prize of 1,500 francs from the Royal Academy of Brussels in 1853, and was very much performed and applauded.
In 1855 Hugo Ulrich went to Italy and lived for long in the various graat towns, but was driven back by want of means to Berlin. He brought with him an unfinished opera, Bertrand de Born (still in manuscript). He taught for a short time in the Conservatorium, but teaching was distasteful to him; he had not the strength to struggle against fate, and after attempting a third symphony (in G) he appears to have broken down, or at least to have relinquished his old high standard, and to have betaken himself to pot-boilers of various kinds. Amongst these his arrangements of symphonies and other orchestral works are prominent, and of first-rate merit. He left a quartet, two overtures, a violonoello sonata, and various pianoforte works.