Born in Munich in 1946, he began studying piano, music education and conducting at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich in 1964. In 1969 he was appointed as a solo coach at the Cologne Opera House. In 1970 he was appointed professor at the Rheinische Musikkonservatorium Cologne. In 1973 Uecker became music director and head of the opera department of the Southeast Bavarian Municipal Theatre in Passau. In 1979 he moved to the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. From 1988-1989 he was artistic director of operations and deputy artistic director and from 1993 opera director.
From 2003 to 2010 he was artistic director of the Semperoper Dresden.
From 2005 to 2010, Uecker was chairman of the German-speaking opera conference, and since 2007 he has been chairman of the university council of the Lübeck University of Music and Performing Arts.