Unlike many musicians, Cuban guitarist Manuel Barrueco did not come from a musical family.He was born in 1952 on the southeastern shore of Cuba, and confesses that his family did not play classical music in their home. Barrueco said in a 2007 interview with “Aural States,” a Baltimore-based blog covering regional and national music, that the distinct sound of the guitar drew him to it. He began playing guitar when he was eight years old and attended the Esteban Salas Conservatory in Santiago de Cuba, which is his native city.
When he was 14, Manuel Barrueco and his family immigrated to the United States as political refugees. His first years in America were so difficult and painful that the rebellious Barrueco stopped playing the guitar completely. He says, “It was a consequence of the immigrant experience.” After about a year, he began playing again at the insistence of a high school teacher.
He went on to complete his advanced studies in guitar at Baltimore’s Peabody Institute, and in 1974 Barrueco was the first classical guitarist to receive the Concert Artist Guild Award. Winning this award entitled him to play in concert at prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York.
In 2007 Manuel Barrueco received a Grammy nomination for “Best Instrumental Soloist Performance” for “Solo Piazzolla,” the first recording released in the exclusive Manuel Barrueco Collection on Tonar Music.
During his career Manuel Barrueco has been described as “an aristocrat of the guitar, who marries precise technique with deep musical knowledge, and sensuous expressiveness.” Striving for perfection in every note, he describes his ideal as, “playing each note as if there were no other way to play it.” After 40 years, the meticulous artist is still enamored with the beauty of the guitar. “You don’t choose what you fall in love with,” Barrueco says.
The hard-working musician continues to tour, to record, and to collaborate with award winning ensembles such as the “Cuarteto Latinoamericano”, the leading proponent of Latin American music for string quartet.
By instructing master classes in guitar at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, Manuel Barrueco continues to share his extraordinary passion for the guitar with a small number of exceptionally gifted young guitarists from all over the world.