Loewe was born in Löbejün and received his first music lessons from his father. He was a choir-boy, first at Cöthen, and later at Halle, where he went to grammar school. It was while there that he received a grant from the king of Westphalia, which enabled him to further his education in music, and to study theology at Halle University.
In 1820, he moved to Stettin (now Szczecin in Poland), where he worked as organist and music director of the school. It was while there that he did most of his work as a composer, setting a version of Goethe's Erlkönig in 1824 which some say rivals Schubert's far more famous version. He went on to set many other poets' work, including Friedrich Rückert, and translations of William Shakespeare and Lord Byron. He also wrote a number of operas, oratorios and instrumental works.
Later in life, Loewe became very popular both as a composer and as a singer, and he made several tours as a singer in the 1840s and 1850s, visiting England, France, Sweden and Norway amongst other countries. He eventually moved back to Germany, and, after quitting his posts in Stettin, moved to Kiel, where he died from a stroke.