Born in Hamburg, Wolf came to the United States with his family in the 1930s. He served in the Army during World War II; after the war ended, he was stationed in Austria, where he conducted Viennese orchestras.
In the 1950s and '60s, Wolf conducted for the Remington Records label, of which he was music director, and led productions of opera on television. In 1969, he was invited to join the six-year-old Seattle Opera as an assistant conductor. He later became associate conductor and chorus master. At the same time, he mounted a series of opera and operetta productions around Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.
Between 1981 and 1996, he was artistic director of Tacoma Opera, and was credited with reviving that company "from a state of hibernation," according to the Times.
Wolf continued to work at Seattle Opera and to produce operettas up to his death; his last production, of Offenbach's La Perichole, is scheduled for November 12 at Seattle's Town Hall.