Johann Kaspar Mertz: Guitar Works, Volume 5


Composer: Johann Kaspar Mertz Editor: Simon Wynberg
Category: Classical Publisher: Mel Bay Publications


ITEM: 02780
Price: $16.95


Edited by Simon Wynberg, these editions contain biographical information, background to the pieces, performance notes and commentary, and other interesting details including information about Mertz`s guitars.

Volume 5: Few of Mertz`s works can be described as "easy" and even those in this selection are not for complete beginners. The technical difficulty of Mertz`s compositions and those of his contemporaries Coste, Ferranti and Regondi, to name but three, indicates that the standard of guitar playing in the mid-nineteenth century was perhaps not as low as the traditional view would have us believe


1. Praeludium in D dur WoO
2. Orgelfuge von Albrechtsberger (arr. Mertz) WoO
3. Walzer WoO
4. Trois Nocturnes op. 4

About the composer: Johann Kaspar Mertz was born in Pressburg, now Bratislava, on August 17, 1806 of poor parents. He was a precocious gutar and flute virtuoso and by 1840 was living in Vienna where he had immediate success; enjoying the direct patronage of the Empress Caroline Augusta and performing in the capital. Tours to Moravia, Poland and Russia, where he played in the castle of Prince Urosoff, were followed by concerts in Berlin and Dresden. It was in the latter city that he met Josephine Plantin with whom he toured. He married her in Prague on the 14th of December 1842. Four years later Mertz became very ill. The doctor prescribed strychnine. Josephine was rather imprudent, adminstering the entire dose and predictably, her husband worsened. After 18 months of tender nursing, it appears that the guitarist was once again ready for the rigours of concert life and his career was resumed. In 1885 he performed for Ludwig of Bavaria, who, the story goes, was incredulous that an instrument so modest of appearance with just ten strings could produce such an effect. Sortly before winning the 1856 competition in Brussels for guitar competition, Mertz died, on the 14th of October 1856.

Mertz composed prolifically for solo guitar and for guitar/piano duo. His numbered works reach Op. 100 (although there are several missing pieces) and there is a large body of works without opus number or manuscripts. The quality of the compositions varies considerably, and it is unfortunate for us today that a sizeable portion of Mertz`s legacy comprises works based on operatic airs used in fairly predictable theme and variation fantasy forms. However, Mertz`s original material is well worth revival and it is primarily with this part of his output that the present edition of Mertz`s works will deal.

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