With an extraordinary career spanning more than 50 years, guitarist, composer, arranger, teacher and creative visionary José Luis Merlin imagines dazzling musical works that celebrate both his classical background and his passion for folk music. Profoundly moved by visual art, dance, literature and film and also influenced by his Latin American, Ukrainian-Jewish and Spanish roots, his original pieces feature contemporary and traditional elements as well as diverse Argentinian rhythms, the haunting melodies of Eastern European folk songs and the resonant, romantic melodies of Western European classical music.
Often referred to as a “poet of the guitar,” Merlin’s guitar pours out magical, musical elegies about his own personal journey, which has been marked by moments of love, loss, longing, sorrow, joy and hope. Because his own story has also been colored by geographical upheaval, the refrain of the immigrant is a recurring theme in his music. Merlin’s contagious energy, enthusiasm for playing both chamber music and folk music and his fondness for collaborating with painters, photographers, dancers, actors, puppeteers, writers, filmmakers and a wide range of other artists inspire him to continue to evolve his craft and keep his mind open to life’s many possibilities.
Merlin has been a performer and composer as well as a researcher and teacher of instrumental technique since 1967. His study of guitar began with the prestigious Argentinian guitarist and composer Vicente Degese and continued with Abel Carlevaro and Leónidas Arnedo. His humanistic, personal approach to music and devotion to folk, contemporary and classical music has garnered admiration from folk and classical guitar legends, mentors and contemporaries such as Abel Carlevaro and Paco de Lucía. Merlin’s compositions are at the core of the most distinguished conservatory and university programs in the world, including the Royal Conservatory of Music in Spain, London, Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, the Shanghai Music Conservatory and many more. They are also being performed and recorded by eminent artists including Jasón Vieux, Eric Cabalo, Lisa Schroeder and David Tannenbaum (USA), Yang Xuefei (China), Antigoni Goni (Greece), Etienne Plasman (Luxembourg), Ana Archiles (Spain), Luis Andrés Campos Yépez (Ecuador), César Amaro (Uruguay), Eduardo Martín (Cuba), Alexandra Syniakova (Ukraine) and others.