Manuel Barrueco (pronounced Mah-noo-éhl Bah-roo-éh-koh) is a Cuban virtuoso classical guitarist. He was born in 1952 in Santiago de Cuba, on Cuba's southeastern shore. He has toured in the U.S., Europe and Japan, and serves on the faculty of Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland.
Manuel Barrueco began playing the guitar at the age of eight, and he attended the Esteban Salas Conservatory in his native Santiago de Cuba. He immigrated with his family to the United States in 1967, later completing his advanced studies at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, where he was granted a scholarship.
At the age of 22, he became the first classical guitarist to receive the Concert Artists Guild Award in 1974, attesting to the fact that before him, guitar music hadn't been universally accepted in classical music.
His first recordings aroused incredulous amazement about his skills and musical interpretation. Ever since, Barrueco has toured extensively, appearing in some of the world's most important musical centers, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Munich, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Rome, Copenhagen, Athens, South Korea, Taipei, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan.
Manuel Barrueco has made well over a dozen recordings for EMI. This included the 2006 album, ¡Cuba!, was called "an extraordinary musical achievement" by the San Francisco Chronicle, while his recording of Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez with conductor/tenor Plácido Domingo and the Philharmonia Orchestra, was mentioned as the best recording of that piece in Classic CD Magazine. His Nylon & Steel, is a collection of duos with guitar greats: Al Di Meola, Steve Morse (Deep Purple), and Andy Summers (The Police), further demonstrating Barrueco's outstanding versatility and imaginative programming. In the spring of 2006, Concierto Barroco was released by EMI in Europe and Koch International in the United States, containing world premiere recordings of new works for guitar and orchestra by Roberto Sierra and Arvo Pärt, as well as two guitar concertos by Antonio Vivaldi.
In addition to performing works by the aforementioned composers, Barrueco's commitment to contemporary music and to the expansion of the guitar repertoire has led him to collaborations with distinguished composers such as Toru Takemitsu, Steven Stucky, and Michael Daugherty.
His performances have been broadcast by television stations such as NHK in Japan, Bayerischer Rundfunk in Germany, and RTVE in Spain. In the United States, he has been featured in a Lexus car commercial, on CBS Sunday Morning, A&E's Breakfast with the Arts, and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. A one-hour documentary portrait, Manuel Barrueco: A Gift and a Life, was produced in 2006. It includes several performances and interviews, in one of which he reminisces over his childhood years in Cuba, and pledges never to return until the present communist regime has come to an end.
- "[...] In baroque music I use probably at least 95% to 99% free strokes, as I feel it is more stylistically correct and it is the best way to fully control dynamics and tone in polyphonic music."
Interviews and Forum Activity
- Interview with UrbanGuitar.com
- Interview with Greg Szeto for Aural States (Dec 2007) alt.
- In Session: Manuel Barrueco Forum GFA "Guitar Foundation of America" (posts)
- Leo Brouwer and Manuel Barrueco Interviews by David Reynolds