Felix Petyrek was born in the city of Brno, then in Austria, on 14 May 1892 and grew up in Vienna. He had his basic musical training with his father, August, a concert organist. He studied at the Vienna Music Academy under Leopold Godowsky and Emil von Sauer (piano), Franz Schreker (composition), and at the Philosophy Department of Vienna University with Guido Adler. During his military service (1915–1918) as a guard in a prisoner-of-war camp he collected folk-songs from different East European traditions, published by Universal-Edition. After his graduation with honours in 1919 he became a teacher at the Salzburg Mzarteum Music Academy. After moving in 1921 to Berlin and later to Aclesheim in Switzerland, Petyrek moved to Abbazia (Opatija, Croatia) and started there and in Salzburg summer courses for piano and composition. There he met Loris Margaritis, with whom developed a deep friendship.
Petyrek had already composed many works for piano, chamber music, stage works and compositions for vocal ensembles and until 1926 he gave many concerts in Germany, where he was associated with the musical avant-garde. In summer 1926 he was invited to teach piano and composition at Athens Conservatory. With his friend from his Berlin days, Dimitri Mitropoulos, he organized for the following years various concerts in Athens and Salzburg. From 1930 to 1950, after his Greek adventure, Petyrek taught successively at the Music Academies of Stuttgart, Leipzig and Vienna. In 1950 he was awarded the Austria State Prize of Music. He died on 1st December 1951.