Artistic director for
Les Forces Majeures
Raphaël Merlin was born in 1982, and from his earliest childhood his musical taste was resolutely eclectic. He studied at the Clermont-Ferrand, Boulogne-Billancourt and Paris Conservatoires and the Haute École in Geneva, specialising in cello, piano, jazz, composition, and finally conducting, deeply engaged in every one of these fields, each new discipline enriching the others. His true speciality is versatility.
Raphaël Merlin initially honed his conducting skills directing chamber orchestras, then founded Les Forces Majeures in 2014, gathering together a number of already existing quartets and quintets. This versatile and dynamic ensemble, combining repertoire work with premières and jazz, achieved immediate international renown for its Rossini recording with mezzo-soprano Karine Deshayes for the Aparte label in 2016. Concerts with Nicholas Angelich, Sayaka Shoji, Sarah Nemtanu, Inva Mula, Florian Sempey, Amel Brahim-Jelloul, Marc Mauillon, Edgar Moreau, Jan Lisiecki and others attracted the attention of the radio stations, with Radio Classique broadcasting a French programme of the Fauré Requiem and other French music live from the Cathedral of St Louis des Invalides. Invitations started to arrive for Raphaël from established orchestras, and in 2018 he directed the Barber of Sevilleat the Vichy Opera.
Within the Quatuor Ebène, which won 1stPrize at the ARD International Competition Munich in 2004, Raphaël works withEberhard Feltz, the Ysaÿe Quartet, Gabor Takacs and Gyorgy Kurtag, performing in the world's most prestigious concert halls alongside artists such as Mitsuko Ushida, Nicholas Angelich, Matthias Goerne, Natalie Dessay, Martin Fröst, Antoine Tamestit, Gautier and Renaud Capuçon, and Nicolas Altstaedt.
Renowned for its interest in all styles of music – pop, jazz, world music – thanks in large measure to original arrangements, and performing for all styles of audience, the Quartet has been invited to perform the complete Beethoven String Quartets at the New York Carnegie Hall in 2020. This invitation is the foundation stone for a world tour starting in 2019, which will be recorded and filmed, to bear witness to the supreme intellectual and emotional experience which this monumental corpus represents. The Quatuor Ebène has an exclusive recording contract with Erato/Warner Classics.
Compositions include: Eléa, a concerto for string quartet and orchestra, premiered in Cracow in 2011 by the Quatuor Ebène and the Klangforum Mitte Europa; Pas de Deux for violin and cello, premiered at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in 2014; See: Sea and Seeds. Si!, a concerto for cello and strings, premiered at the 2016 Lockenhaus Festival; and Passage-Eclair, for mixed octet, premiered in Paris in 2018.