Burgdorff was born in Cleveland, Ohio and attended the Cleveland School of Art. Attracted by the work of Southwest artists, he left Cleveland. He traveled and painted throughout Arizona and New Mexico. Later he continued his studies in Paris with Rene Menard and Florence Este. Upon his return, a series of successful exhibitions in Cleveland helped finance two years of foreign travel in France, Italy, Egypt, Greece and the Philippines. After his travels, he settled on the West Coast, first in Mill Valley. Encouraged by friends, he visited the Monterey Peninsula, where he eventually built a home and studio in Pebble Beach. An early and active member of the Carmel Art Association during its formative years, he remained a working member and painter until his death in 1975 at the age of 94.