It was around this time that Wieniawski also began to delve more seriously into composition. Starting with two more years of studying harmony and composition with H. Collet at the Paris Conservatoire, he quickly began to build his opus count, finishing and publishing fourteen works by 1853. Of these, many have become partially or wholly lost. The pieces that survived show a surprisingly mature compositional voice, marred only by a flair for drama and virtuosity. However, it was exactly these supposed shortcomings that endeared Wienaiwski to European audiences. His early works, such as the Polonaise in D major (1852) and Concerto No. 1 in F# minor (1853), were particularly enthusiastically received in Germany. Like his contemporary, Chopin, these pieces show a high degree of Polish nationalism, in addition to being consummately Romantic in nature.
Wienaiwski’s fame was steadily growing due to successful performances throughout the Baltic States, Scandinavia and Western Europe. In 1859 he finally appeared in the British Isles, giving concerts in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Dublin and Belfast, amongst other places. In London he famously performed on viola with the Beethoven Quartet Society, in which Joseph Joachim was one of the violinists. It was also around this time that he met Isabella Hampton in London, who he would dedicate his Légende to in 1860 and marry later the same year. Together they returned back to Russia at the request of his friend, the great Russian pianist Anton Rubinstein, who was seeking to improve the musical and cultural opportunities in St. Petersburg.