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Joseph Salzbacher was a distinguished ecclesiastic scholar whose formative academic journey began at the Episcopal Seminary in St. Pölten, where he studied from 1808 until his ordination as a priest in 1812. His early clerical service saw him as a co-operator in Gföhl until 1815, and subsequently as a cathedral curate in St. Pölten until 1818. Pursuing higher education, Salzbacher attended the Frintaneum in Vienna, culminating in a Doctorate of Theology in 1821.

Appointed as the spiritual director of the Episcopal Seminary in St. Pölten in 1821, Salzbacher also held a professorship of Old Testament Bible studies and oriental languages from 1822. His return to Vienna in 1824 marked his tenure as a court chaplain and spiritual director at the Frintaneum, alongside membership in the Catholic Theological Faculty at the University of Vienna. In 1825, he was elected dean of the theological faculty and served on the university senate and as a senior in the doctoral college.

In 1830, he was elected as a canon to the cathedral chapter of St. Stephen's Cathedral and he ascended to the role of cathedral custodian in 1847.