Alfred Wolfgang von Wurzbach-Tannenberg started studying law at the University of Vienna but switched after the Second State Examination to Romance philology. He obtained his doctorate in 1902 at the University of Tübingen, and habilitated in 1907 at the University of Vienna. After a few years as lecturer at the Institut für Romanistik (Institute of Romance Philology) in Vienna, in 1922 he was appointed extraordinary professor of Romance languages and literature. On 28 May 1938 he was forced to retire from the University of Vienna at the age of fifty-eight. His application for membership of the Reichsschrifttumskammer (Reich Literature Chamber) was rejected because he was considered a "first-degree Mischling" and also ideologically unsound. This conflicts with the assessment by the Vienna Gaupersonalamt (Gau personnel department), which states that he was sympathetic to the National Socialist movement. Wurzbach-Tannenberg is not known to have been a member of the NSDAP or affiliated bodies.
On 28 February 1946 he was appointed by the Federal President as ordinary professor of Romance languages and literature at the University of Vienna, backdated to 27 April 1945. Wurzbach-Tannenberg possessed an extensive collection of books, autographs, portraits and historical medals, which he had written about in 1943 in Katalog meiner Sammlung von Medaillen, Plaketten und Jetons, zugleich ein Handbuch für Sammler. He had also inherited an art collection from his grandfather Joseph Ritter von Lippmann-Lissingen (1827–1900), which included paintings by Old Dutch masters. He bequeathed thirty Dutch pictures and some small-format paintings in 1953 to the Paintings Gallery of the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Wien.