Joachim Held was born in Hamburg. He received his musical education at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis as a student of Eugen Dombois and Hopkinson Smith, graduating with a “Diploma of Period Music” in 1988. From 1988–1990 he studied with Jürgen Hübscher at the Musikhochschule Karlsruhe, graduating with a “Künstlerische Abschlussprüfung”. In 1990 he was awarded the second prize at the Concours Musica Antiqua of the Flandern Festival in Brügge, marking the beginning of an an intensive international concert activity as soloist, chamber musician and continuo player.
Since 1993 (L’incoronazione di Poppea in the Salzburg Festival) Joachim Held performed regularly under the direction of Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Under Harnoncourt he also participated in the production of Henry Purcell’s King Arthur at the Salzburg Festival.
Since 1992 Joachim Held appeared with Il Giardino Armonico (Milan) in numerous concerts and on recordings (amongst others on the Vivaldi Album with Cecialia Bartoli for Decca). Since 2005 Joachim Held’s solo-CDs are released world-wide by Hänssler Classic. That year appeared the Schele Manuskript Hamburg 1619 CD (co-produced with the Swiss Radio DRS2 Zurich) and the Erfreuliche Lautenlust with music by Austrian composers for the Baroque lute. This CD was awarded the “Echo Klassik 2006” for the best solo recording of music from the 17th/18th centuries. In 2006 the CD German Lute Music of the Baroque was released by Hänssler Classic in cooperation with Deutschlandfunk Köln. In 2007 followed Che Soavita, Italian lute music of the Baroque, and in June 2008 Musique pour le roi, French lute musique of the Baroque. In 2010 he devoted the CD Merry Melancholy to the music of the time of John Dowland. His most recent CD with lute music by Johann Sebastian Bach was released in 2013, also by Hänssler Classic.
As a soloist Joachim Held appeared amongst others at the Musikfestspielen Potsdam Sanssouci, at the International Bach Festival Schaffhausen, the Schwetzinger Festspiele, the Bachfesttage in Köthen, the Concerti a San Maurizio in Milan, the Early Music Forum Budapest, the Hausmusik concert series of the ORF Vienna, the Lute Society London, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, the Bachwoche Ansbach and the Händel festivals in Halle an der Saale and in Göttingen.
Since September 2007, Joachim teaches at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. In 2010 he was appointed Professor for Historical Lute Instruments at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen.