Breitenfeld was born in Reichenberg (now in the Czechoslovakian Republic) and made his debut in 1897 as Count Luna in Verdi"s Il trovatore in Cologne. In 1912, he sang the role of the count in Acting II of Franz Schreker"s Der ferne Klang in its world premiere at the Frankfurt Opera. The contralto Magda Spiegel, also of the Frankfurt Opera, was murdered in Auschwitz.
According to Peter Hugh Reed writing in American Record Guide (1949), Breitenfeld recorded for Odeon and HMV between 1910 and 1914.
Richard Breitenfeld has a memorial stone in Frankfurt.