Herz was born Heinrich Herz in Vienna. He was Jewish by birth, although he asked the musical journalist Fétis not to mention this in the latter’s musical encyclopaedia, perhaps a reflection of endemic anti-semitism in nineteenth-century French cultural circles.
As a child Herz studied with his father and in Coblenz with the organist Daniel Hünten. In 1816 he entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied under Victor Dourlen and Anton Reicha. His brother Jacques Herz (1794-1880) was a fellow-pupil at the Conservatoire, and also became a noted pianist and teacher
A celebrated pianist, Herz traveled worldwide, including tours in Europe, Russia, South America, and in the United States of America in 1846-50, where he concertised all the way to San Francisco, California, where his performances were compared to the more extravagant manner of Leopold de Meyer, concertising in the United States during the same period (1845-47).. He wrote a book about his experiences abroad, Mes voyages en Amérique (Paris: Achille Faure, 1866).
Herz taught at the Conservatoire (1842-74). (Of his pupils, only Marie-Aimée Roger-Miclos (1860-1950) recorded, in the early 1900s, for Dischi Fonotipia.)
In 1842 he built the Salle des Concerts Herz on the rue de la Victoire. This was used for performances by Berlioz and Offenbach. In 1851 he founded his own piano factory in Paris
Herz composed many pieces including eight piano concertos. Among his many musical works, he was involved with the composition of Hexaméron (the fourth variation on Bellini’s theme is his). Many however found his piano style showy and shallow, and Robert Schumann was amongst those who criticized it.