Johann Kaspar Mertz

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Portrait of J. K. Mertz

Johann Kaspar Mertz (in Hungarian: János Gáspár Mertz) (17 August 1806 – 14 October 1856) was a Hungarian guitarist and composer.

Biography[edit]

Caspar Joseph Mertz (baptised Casparus Josephus Mertz)[1] was born in Pressburg, the capital of the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary, now Bratislava (Slovakia). He was active in Vienna (c.1840–1856), which had been home to various prominent figures of the guitar, including Anton Diabelli, Mauro Giuliani, Wenceslaus Matiegka and Simon Franz Molitor. A virtuoso, he established a solid reputation as a performer. He toured Moravia, Poland, and Russia, and gave performances in Berlin and Dresden. In 1856 Mertz nearly died of an overdose of strychnine that had been prescribed to him as a treatment for neuralgia. Over the following year he was nursed back to health in the presence his wife, the concert pianist Josephine Plantin whom he married in 1842. Some speculation may lead one to the conclusion that listening to his wife performing the romantic piano pieces of the day during his period of recovery may have had an influence on the sound and unusual right hand technique he adopted for the Bardenklänge (Bardic Sounds) op. 13 (1847).

Mertz's guitar music, unlike that of most of his contemporaries, followed the pianistic models of Chopin, Mendelssohn, Schubert and Schumann, rather than the classical models of Mozart and Haydn (as did Sor and Aguado), or the bel canto style of Rossini (as did Giuliani). Though the date of his birth indicates that that was the logical influence, since Sor was born in 1778, Aguado in 1784 and Giuliani in 1781 while Mertz in 1806, a difference of about 25 years.

The Bardenklänge are probably Mertz's most important contribution to the guitar repertoire – a series of deceptively easy character pieces in the mould of Schumann.

Selected compositions[edit]

Guitar solo[edit]

  • Verlands-Blüthen op. 1
  • Nachtviolen op. 2
  • Zwey Polonaisen und Mazurka op. 3
  • Trois Nocturnes op. 4
  • Cyanen op. 5
  • Le Carneval de Venice. Air varié op. 6
  • Opern-Revue op. 8 (33 numbers)
  • Introduction et Rondo Brillant op. 11
  • Erinnerung an Ischl. 6 Ländler op. 12
  • Bardenklänge op. 13. A series of pieces separated into 15 Hefte, the last two of which were published posthumously. Includes: An Malvina; Romanze; Abendlied; Unruhe; Elfenreigen; An die Entfernte; Étude; Capriccio; Gondoliera; Liebeslied; Fingals-Höhle; Gebeth; Tarantelle; Variations Mignonnes; Kindermärchen; Rondino; Romanze; Scherzo; Sehnsucht; Lied ohne Worte; Mazurka; Polonaise Favorites Nos. 1-7; Romanze; Walzer im Ländlerstyl.
  • Portefeuille für Guitarre-Spieler. Includes: Martha. Musik von F. Flotow op. 16; Der Prophet. Musik von G. Meyerbeer op. 21; Agathe op. 22; Glockentöne op. 24; Fantaisie über Motive aus der Oper 'Don Juan' [Mozart] op. 28; Das Blümlein op. 34; Nabucco. Musik von G. Verdi op. 62; Rigoletto. Musik von G. Verdi op. 63; Il Trovatore. Musik von G. Verdi op. 86; L'Étoile du nord. Opera de G. Meyerbeer Op. 100.
  • Agathe op. 22
  • Glockentöne op. 24
  • Divertissement über Motive der Oper 'Der Prophet' (Meyerbeer) op. 32
  • Original Steyer Tänze op. 33
  • Das Blümlein op. 34
  • Caprice op. 50
  • Trois Morceaux op. 65. Includes: Fantaisie hongroise; Fantaisie originale; Le Gondolier.
  • Pianto dell'amante
  • Élégie
  • 6 Schubert'sche Lieder
  • Concertino
  • Schule für die Guitarre

Guitar duo[edit]

  • Barcarola
  • Der Ball
  • Deutsche Weise
  • Impromptu
  • Mazurka
  • Nänien. Trauerlieder. Includes: Am Grabe der Geliebten; Ich denke dein; Trauermarsch.
  • Ständchen
  • Tarantelle
  • Unrühe
  • Vespergang
  • Wasserfahrt am Traunsee

Bibliography[edit]

  • Masami Kimura: "Johann K. oder Josef K. Mertz", in: nova giulianiad vol. 3 no. 9–10 (1986)
  • Astrid Stempnik: Caspar Joseph Mertz: Leben und Werk des letzten Gitarristen im österreichischen Biedermeier (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1990), ISBN 3-631-41801-9.

Selected recordings[edit]

  • Tonstücke. Sämtliche Werke für zwei Gitarren, performed by Duo Favori (Barbara Gräsle, Frank Armbruster), on: Tacet 42 (CD, 1995). Contains (in this order): Deutsche Weise; Der Ball; Ständchen; Nänien; Tarantelle; Verspergang; Mazurka; Wasserfahrt am Traunsee; Barcarola; Unrühe; Impromptu.
  • Guitar Duos, performed by Sonja Prunnbauer and Johannes Tappert, on: Musikproduktion Dabringhaus & Grimm MDG 603 1139-2 (CD, 2002). Contains: Wasserfahrt am Traunsee; Barcarole; Erinnerung an Ungarn I & II; Nänien; Unruhe; Ständchen; Mazurka; Deutsche Weise; Vespergesang; La Rage.
  • Bardenklänge op. 13, performed by Adam Holzman, on: Naxos 8.554556 (CD, 2002).
  • Werke für Gitarre / Works for Guitar, performed by Maximilian Mangold, on: Musicaphon MUS 56873 (CD, 2005). Contains: Pianto dell'Amante; Le Romantique; Elegie; Liebeslied; Unruhe; Romanze; Capriccio; Abendlied; Introduction et Rondo brillant; Caprice sur un theme favori de Carl Maria de Weber; Fantasie Hongroise.
  • Guitar Duets, performed by Laura Fraticelli and Johannes Möller, on: Naxos 8.573055 (CD, 2014). Contains (in this order): Unruhe; Nänien; Mazurka; Ständchen; Wasserfahrt am Traunsee; La rage; Vespergang; Barcarole; Impromptu; Tarantelle; Deutsche Weise.
  • Barden-Klänge, performed by Graziano Salvoni, on: Brilliant Classics 94473 (double CD, 2014). Contains the first 11 volumes of Bardenklänge.[2]
  • Dances, Nocturnes and Etudes, performed by Graziano Salvoni, on: Brilliant Classics 94653 (double CD, 2014). Contains: Verlands-Blüthen op. 1; Nachtviolen op. 2; Zwey Polonaisen und Mazurka op. 3; Trois Nocturnes op. 4; Cyanen op. 5; 6 Ländler op. 9; Introduction et Rondo Brillant op. 11; Erinnerung an Ischl 6 Ländler op. 12; Übungsstücke nos. 1–15; Walzer im Ländlerstyl; studies (Bojie nos. 387, 389, 391); pieces in Bojie Collection no. 388, 390, 394, 406, 414; 7 waltzes op. posth.
  • Le Romantique, performed by Raphaella Smits, on: Accent ACC 24303 (CD, 2015; recorded 1988–2003). Contains: Harmonie du soir; Le Romantique; Tarantelle op. 13 no. 6; Introduction et Rondeau Brillant op. 11; 6 Schubert'sche Lieder für die Guitare übertragen; Le Carnaval de Venise op. 6; Le Gondolier op. 65 no. 3; Pianto dell'Amante; La Rimembranza; Souvenir de Choulhoff.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Astrid Stempnik: Caspar Joseph Mertz: Leben und Werk des letzten Gitarristen im österreichischen Biedermeier (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1990).
  2. ^ "[...] the remaining ones either not original works by Mertz or arbitrarily inserted into a later edition." (label information)

External links[edit]

Sheetmusic[edit]