Arnulf Herrmann, born in 1968 in Heidelberg, first studied piano in Munich under Gernot Sieber, then composition under Wilfried Krätzschmar and piano under Arkadi Zenzipér at the Hochschule für Musik in Dresden. From 1995 to 1996 he was a pupil of Gérard Grisey and Emanuel Nunes at the Paris Conservatoire, before completing his training in Berlin under Hartmut Fladt and Jörg Mainka (music theory), as well as under Friedrich Goldmann, Gösta Neuwirth and Hanspeter Kyburz. In 1999/2000 he participated on a DAAD post-graduate scholarship in the one-year course Composition and New Technologies at IRCAM in Paris.

Arnulf Herrmann has a close association with some of the foremost ensembles for contemporary music, such as the Ensemble Intercontemporain (he won its biennial Comité de Lecture in 2005), Klangforum Wien, and in particular the Ensemble Modern. His works are played both home and abroad and a regular feature at festivals, such as the Donaueschinger Musiktagen, the Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik, Wien Modern, Ultraschall Berlin, the Eclat Festival Stuttgart, and Musica Strasbourg.

Herrmann has been awarded various prizes and distinctions for his music, including the Hanns Eisler Prize for Composition (2001), the City of Stuttgart Composition Prize (2003), and the International Rostrum of Composers (for Terzenseele, 2006). In 2008 he was awarded the Advancement Prize for Music by the Kunstpreis Berlin. That same year Arnulf Herrmann received a fellowship for Villa Massimo in Rome. 

Arnulf Herrmann is a lecturer of composition, analysis and instrumentation at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin.