"On 14th October the famous guitar virtuoso C.J.Mertz died in Vienna. He was 49 years old. He was the only musician who held the guitar up above the waves of  oblivion... The orphaned guitar, which under his hands radiated an undreamt-of magic, has lost its most valued champion. A modest artist and a gentle, kindly man, witty in his intercourse, he will be mourned by all his  friends." (Neue Wiener Musikzeitung, 6th November 1856)



Mertz, who was born in Pressburg (Bratislava) in 1806 and settled in Vienna in 1840, lived at a  time when the status of the guitar as a concert instrument had already passed its peak. Two decades earlier Mauro Giuliani had been a great success in Vienna, and in 1841 Giulio Regondi celebrated the last triumph of a  guitarist in front of an audience which had already begun to tire of this fashionable instrument.

Mertz himself performed both in Vienna (numerous press reports of the time have been prserved) and on extensive tours,  accompanied in person and musically by his wife Josephine, herself a pianist. As a virtuoso, Mertz must have been one of the best of his time, to judge by the technical difficulty of his pieces for solo guitar. His  duets on the other hand, did not place nearly so much emphasis merely on the virtuoso aspect. It seems far more likely that in these works Mertz consciously orientated himself towards contemporaries, such as Chopin or  Schubert.

(extract from an article written by Frank Armbruster)