Kerll studied in Rome under Carissimi (and possibly Frescobaldi) at the same time as his countryman Froberger. In 1656 he was employed as Kapellmeister by the Elector of Bavaria in Munich where he remained until 1674. His deputy organist and student while in Munich was Johann Pachelbel. In 1680 Kerll became organist at Vienna. His compositions include: operas, a Requiem, Masses, other sacred and secular choral works, pieces for organ, and some for other instruments. In a letter to Forkel, Carl Philipp Emanuel named Kerll as a composer whose works his father had admired.