Composer and violinist. He received his formal education in Jihlava at the Jesuit Gymnasium and was in Prague at the university during 1734-35. He arrived in Mannheim probably by 1741 and was employed by the court. He was "first violinist" by 1743, became Konzertmeister in 1745 or 1746 and director of instrumental music in 1750. In Paris 1754-55, he appeared at the Concert Spirituel. His music was published in Paris, London, and Amsterdam. Today Stamitz is regarded as one of the foremost early classical symphonists. His contributions include regular use of the 4-movement cycle (instead of three) in his symphonic works and a transfer of features of Italian opera-overture style, including the crescendo, to the symphony. Under his direction the Mannheim orchestra became one of the most renowned in Europe. He was also well regarded as a teacher; among his pupils who went on to achieve success were his own sons Karl and Anton, Christian Cannabich, Ignaz Fränzl, and Wilhelm Cramer.
Precise enumeration of Stamitz's works is made difficult by the fact that several other composers shared some form of his surname, as well as by a lack of autograph manuscripts. He is best known for his symphonies, of which nearly 60 are extant (many others are lost), and his ten orchestral trios. He wrote many solo concertos, including at least fifteen for violin, eleven for flute, one for oboe, one for clarinet, and several for keyboard. Other extant works include a Mass, liturgical vocal music, and chamber works.