Arnulf Herrmann

b. 1968



Rhythms out of step, microtonal irritations, melodic deformations - Arnulf Herrmann, born in 1968, is a master of creating damaged and wavering textures. In his music, he often shapes processes of change of previously introduced models that can be vividly traced.

This is particularly forceful in works that address fears and psychological borderline experiences, such as in the music theatre work Wasser, premiered in 2012 as part of the Munich Biennale, and in the opera Der Mieter, based on a text by Roland Topor. But laconic humour and grotesque sound worlds are also not alien to this music.

In both operas, as in his orchestral and ensemble works in general, Herrmann's virtuoso orchestral treatment and his ability for effective, multifaceted instrumentation are also evident.

Another characteristic of Arnulf Herrmann's oeuvre is the range of genres with which he composes. His catalogue of works ranges from solo pieces to chamber music, ensemble, dance, orchestra and opera. In addition, the natural use of new technologies documents his continuous search for ever new perspectives, tools and approaches with regard to his own work.

Arnulf Herrmann has received numerous prizes and awards for his music, including a scholarship from the Villa Massimo in Rome in 2008 and one of the composer prizes from the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation in 2010. From 2004 to 2014 he taught composition, instrumentation and analysis at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin. In 2014 he was appointed professor of composition at the HfM Saar in Saarbrücken. He lives in Berlin.


Arnulf Herrmann was born in Heidelberg. He first studied piano in Munich, followed by composition and music theory in Dresden, Paris and Berlin. Herrmann works closely with some of the world’s leading ensembles for contemporary music (the Ensemble Modern, the Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Klangforum Wien and the MusikFabrik NRW) as well as various orchestras (such as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the SWR Baden-Baden Freiburg Symphony Orchestra, the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne and the New Stockholm Chamber Orchestra). His pieces are played within Germany and abroad and have been performed at festivals such as the Donaueschingen, the Witten Festival for New Chamber Music, the Munich Biennale, the Wien Modern, Ultraschall Berlin, Eclat Stuttgart and Musica Straßbourg. His opera Wasser premiered in 2012 at the Munich Biennale performed by the Ensemble Modern. In 2017 his opera Der Mieter (The Tenant) was premiered at Oper Frankfurt. Herrmann has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Hanns Eisler Composition Prize (2001), the Stuttgart Composition Prize (2003) and the award presented by the International Rostrum of Composers (for Terzenseele, 2006). In 2008 he won the Berlin Art Prize and also spent a year as artist-in-residence at the Villa Massimo in Rome. In 2010 Herrmann received the Composer’s Prize from the Ernst von Siemens music foundation. From 2004 to 2014 he taught composition, instrumentation and analysis at the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin and was appointed Professor of Composition at the HfM Saar University of Music in Saarbrücken in the spring of 2014. He lives in Berlin.

Arnulf Herrmann's works are published by Edition Peters.



12th May 2024

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
WDR Sinfonieorchester
Elena Schwarz
Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany