Merje Kägu is a guitarist and composer from Pärnu, Estonia, who now lives in Gothenburg, Sweden. She started studying classical guitar at the age of 8 under the guidance of teachers Peeter Prints. This opened up a new palette of musical colours that were unknown to her until then. Although the main focus was on learning a classical music repertoire, she was also encouraged to improvise and create her own music. This nourished her love for music and created a deeper connection with a world of different sounds. This led her gradually toward jazz music, and, at the age of 16, she started studying jazz guitar with Marek Talts. These fruitful classes not only taught her about the wonders of jazz music and its history, but also about musicianship.

After high school she moved to Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, to study music. First under the guidance of Mart Soo at Georg Otsa Music College, before going on to study jazz at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre under the guidance of Jaak Sooäär. 

A desire to learn more about her instrument, and Scandinavian improvised music, impelled her to move to Denmark to study at The Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, Southern Denmark. It was here that inspirational and eye-opening musical experiences and lessons with saxophonist Marc Bernstein, Danish guitarists Asger Jacoby and Thor Madsen, and French contemporary avant-garde jazz guitarist Marc Ducret reawakened her interest in composing and arranging.  

After a successful year in Denmark, Merje moved on to Gothenburg University’s Academy of Music and Drama in Sweden, where she gained a master’s degree specialising in improvisation performance. It was here that her interest for crossover projects started to grow, and the Gothenburg music scene was the perfect place for her to appear with her original music, and learn more about her own musical language.

During her studies in Gothenburg Merje collaborated with musicians from Norway. This introduced her to new artists and opportunities to discover inspiring music. Leading to Merje to study composition at The Norwegian Academy of Music. There she was taught to compose for both small and large ensembles in a classical as well as jazz music context under the guidance of Kjell Habbestad, Bente Leiknes Thorsen and Helge Sunde.


  • 2016 Tiit Pauluse young guitar player’s prize
  • 2015 Gurmund-Neubergh’s prize
  • 2008 Uno Naissoo Composition Contest, special prize for a piece “Eksperiment”
  • 2006 Rainbow Jazz competition for best arrangement

Festivals: Gothenburg Art Sounds, Planeta Festival, Women in Jazz, Parma Jazz Frontiere, Winter Jazz, Mozg Festival, Jazzkaar, Tallinn Music Week, Viljandi Guitar Festival, Intsikurmu Festival, Viru Folk  and many more…

Merje Kägu Ensemble © Raul Ollo