Walfrid Kujala, a native of Warren, Ohio, began playing flute at age 13 when his father, a bassoonist, suggested choosing an instrument that didn't require making reeds. By high school he was already playing second flute with the Huntington Symphony and studying with its principal flutist, Parker Taylor. At the Eastman School of Music, Kujala received his bachelor of music degree in flute performance in 1948 and a master of music degree in 1950. He immediately joined the Rochester Philharmonic under Erich Leinsdorf and then in 1954 accepted the assistant principal flute position under Fritz Reiner in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where he later became principal piccolo. Kujala continued with the CSO for 47 years and was frequently featured as a soloist. One of his most memorable solo performances was the 1988 premiere of Gunther Schuller's Flute Concerto, commissioned by Kujala's students as a birthday present.
Kujala has served as president of the National Flute Association, which presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. He has also received the Bienen School of Music's Exemplar in Teaching Award and has been a consulting editor for several music publications, including Flute Talk.
Kujala is perhaps best known to flute students across the country as the author of the renowned textbook The Flutist’s Progress, which was the impetus for his foray into publishing. Kujala founded Progress Press in 1970 and has continued to publish solo and chamber music as well as studies on flute performance. He recently authored The Articulate Flutist: Rhythms, Groupings, Turns, and Trills.