Ulrich Heinen was born in Ittenbach, near Bonn in Germany. He studied at the Cologne Conservatoire under Siegfried Palm and at the Juilliard School of Music, New York with Leonard Rose. He won several national and international competitions, notably the prestigious Rostropovich Competition in La Rochelle (France). After graduating from Juilliard he took up the position of principal cello with the Radio Orchestra Saarbrücken, Germany and in the same year became member of the Czapary String Trio, earning an outstanding reputation for the interpretation of Mozart and Schubert.
In 1984 Ulrich Heinen settled in England, at Sir Simon Rattle’s invitation to become principal cellist and section leader of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. As soloist he performed numerous concertos with the CBSO, including Haydn, Schumann, Elgar, Tchaikovsky and Colin Mathews recorded on BBC Radio 3.
His many CDs include Mark Anthony Turnage's Kai for cello and orchestra, three separate recordings of the Bach cello suites and a collection of contemporary compositions for solo cello. As recitalist and chamber musician he collaborated with outstanding pianists such as Stephen Hough, Leif Ove Andnes, Thomas Adès and Pierre-Laurent Aimard, appearing regularly on the BBC Radio 3 lunchtime recital series. In 1987 he co-founded the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG), which subsequently became one of Britain's most important ensembles for contemporary music.
His recent appearances as soloist include Lutoslavski cello concerto with Birmingham Festival Orchestra, Brahms Double Concerto with APA Orchestra in Hong Kong, Haydn D major cello concerto with the CC Orchestra in Beijing and Betsy Jolas ‘Wanderlied’ for cello and ensemble with BCMG at the 2015 BBC Proms in London.
He has always been much in demand as teacher and taught at the Royal Northern College of Music and the Birmingham Conservatoire. He has given master classes at the Australian National Academy in Melbourne, the Academy of Performing Arts in Hong-Kong and the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. He has given lecture-recitals on Bach Cello Suites at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, Birmingham University and the Royal Academy of Music in London.