Born in the Dutch town of Bussum in 1961, Herman Rieken started learning to play the drums at the age of five as a member of a drum band conducted by his aunt. He went on to attend the preparatory programme and his first year at conservatory in Hilversum studying with Wim Koopman. In his second year, he went to Amsterdam to study with Jan Labordus and Jan Pustjens at the Sweelinck Conservatory, where he graduated in 1985.
Rieken started working as a substitute with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as early as in the 1981/82 season. He was a member of the Amsterdam Percussion Group from 1981, the year it was founded, to 2004. He was a member of the Metropole Orchestra from 1994 to 2002, and played in the Ebony Band. He has also taught at the music school in Lelystad.
Herman Rieken has been a member of the percussion section of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra since 2002.
From December 2007 up to December 2015, Herman Rieken was chairman of the Vereniging ‘het Concertgebouworchest’, the association that serves the interests of the members and staff of the orchestra.