JOHANN KASPAR MERTZ (1806 - 1856)
Johann Kaspar Mertz (1806-1856) was born to a poor family in Pressburg, the Hungarian Pozsony, now the Slovakian capital, Bratislava, where his only notable memorial is an annual competition in his name. He was a child prodigy on the guitar and flute. Little is known of his early life but by 1840 he was ensconced in Vienna, enjoying royal patronage and touring widely in Europe. In 1842 he married Josephine Plantin, a pianist whose unwise administration of strychnine in 1846 aggravated an illness from which he recovered eighteen months later. He died shortly before his magnum opus, the fifteen-volume Bardenklänge was awarded the First Prize in a competition in Brussels, organised by his great admirer Nicolai Petrovich Makaroff.