Annette Josef was born in Solingen in 1969 and grew up in North Hesse. She studied music, majoring in the bassoon, in Mannheim and Munich, attaining an arts degree and a teaching diploma at the College of Music in Munich.
She received scholarships from the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy, and from the Villa Musica Foundation of the Land of the Rhineland Palatinate. She was subsequently engaged to play with various German orchestras, including the Bavarian State Orchestra and the orchestra of the National Theatre in Mannheim.
In tandem with her career as a performing musician, she completed a course of study in music journalism, graduating from the College of Music in Karlsruhe with distinction in 2002. During that time she started working as a journalist for various ARD state-run regional public broadcasters in Germany and for the Research Centre in Karlsruhe, now the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT).
From 2002 to 2006 she was in charge of press and public relations of the International Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival at the Lübeck main office.
In 2006 Annette Josef moved to Munich to become head of artistic administration for the Munich Symphony Orchestra and in 2009 was appointed Orchestra Director and deputy to the Managing Director. In that role she made a major contribution to the Munich Symphony's public profile. One important factor in her work during that period was to bring children and young adults into contact with the orchestra. Furthermore from 2008 until 2017 Annette Josef planned and presented the "Präludium" series of short concerts and talks as an introduction to the Munich Symphony's evening subscription concert series featuring works of the 20th and 21st centuries.
In March 2013 Annette Josef was appointed Managing Director of the Munich Symphony Orchestra by the governing body's board of trustees.