Manuel Barrueco is admired for his masterful and eloquent guitar playing, his deep musicianship, and his versatility in programming. He did his early studies at the Esteban Salas Conservatory in Cuba. When he was a teenager, his family moved to the United States, and he went on to study at the Peabody Conservatory with Aaron Shearer. He made his Carnegie Hall recital debut in 1974, the same year he won the Concerto Artists Guild Competition. He has performed with orchestras in Europe and Asia, as well as North America. Not only have his performances been broadcast on national networks in Japan, Germany, and Spain, but he has also appeared on the American television shows CBS Sunday Morning, Breakfast with the Arts, and Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.
His concert and recital programs reveal his commitment to expanding the repertory for the classical guitar and working with other highly skilled performers. His own transcriptions of Bach's Violin Sonatas are widely acclaimed. Barrueco has premiered works by Toru Takemitsu and Roberto Sierra and collaborated with Steven Stucky and Arvo Pärt. He has toured with jazz guitarist Al di Meola and released an album of duets, Nylon and Steel, with di Meola, rock guitarist Steve Morse, and Andy Summers, formerly of the rock group the Police. His recordings, primarily found on the EMI label, also reflect this versatility. The traditional guitar repertoire of Spanish composers Albeniz, Rodrigo, Turina, and de Falla is represented, but you also find Latin and South American composers such as Chavez, Piazzolla, and Barrios-Mangoré, and Cuban composers Lecuona and Brouwer and many others on his albums.
Barrueco's other great commitment is to teaching. He helped establish the guitar program at the Manhattan School of Music right after his own graduation, and now teaches at the Peabody Conservatory, annually presenting a master-class seminar for students from around the world.