Born in Berlin, Marcus Merkel studied conducting, composition, piano and voice at the HfM Hanns Eisler and the UdK Berlin. In his youth he was also trained as a jazz pianist and singer as well as on the double bass and saxophone. Among other things, he has won the German National Composition Competition four times and the 2021 competition for the Festive Fanfare of the Graz University of Technology. He attended master classes in conducting with Gianluigi Gelmetti, among others, and was a guest student of Christian Thielemann in Bayreuth. In addition, he successfully completed an MBA degree in 2021.

While still a student, Marcus Merkel founded the Junge Philharmonie Berlin and has been its artistic director ever since. While still a student, he conducted at a festival in Kyoto, Japan, led a conducting workshop for the education department of the Berlin Philharmonic, and stood in for Julien Salemkour in a production of Le nozze di Figaro in Rostock.

From 2015 to 2022 he was engaged as Kapellmeister at the Graz Opera, where he conducted a very broad repertoire of operas including Königskinder, Norma, Don Carlo, La forza del destino and Der fliegende Holländer. As premieres Marcus Merkel conducted among others Die Fledermaus, Candide, Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Les pêcheurs de perles in Graz.

In addition to his engagement in Graz, he conducted Ariadne auf Naxos in Amsterdam, the Verdi Requiem in the Berliner Dom, a concert version of Fidelio with Sir Bryn Terfel, and a semi-staged Tosca with Kristine Opolais, Jonas Kaufmann, and Ludovic Tézier. Merkel also founded the Junge Konzerte Graz, with which he regularly organizes concerts by young musicians for young people.

Since the 2022/23 season, Marcus Merkel has been chief conductor at Theater Koblenz, where he already introduced himself in April 2022 with a new Parsifal. In his first season, he will conduct the premieres of Freischütz, La Traviata and Nixon in China.

Guest engagements in 2022/23 take him to the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra for an opening gala with Sir Bryn Terfel, back to Graz with a premiere of Kurt Weill's One Touch of Venus, to the Nederlandse Reisopera for a new production of Die Zauberflöte, and to the Munich Symphony Orchestra for a concert with Fatma Said. 2023/24 debut with the Staatsorchester Darmstadt, 2024/25 return to Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and several debuts planned.