The Annual
November 20, 2004

 Glebe Music Festival

In conjunction with The Glebe Society Inc

The Annual Glebe Music Festival Saturday 20 Nov 2004

Swirl - Woodwind Trio

Jacques Ibert - Cinque Pièces en Trio
Allegro vivo
Allegro assai
Allegro quasi marziale
Jacques Ibert - Trio in F, Op 9 No 1
Allegro moderato
Rondo allegretto

Walter Piston

- Three Pieces
Allegro scherzando
Allegro - Moderato - Allegro
Simon Powis: Guitar
Johann Kaspar Mertz
More Information
Swirl: Victoria Richmond - Flute
Jennifer Binovec - Clarinet
Nerida Bartlett - Bassoon


First Interval


G. F. Handel - arrangements
Joseph Haydn - Divertimento No. 25 in C major
Allegro molto
Menuet and Trio
Finale: Allegro molto
Pierre Max Dubois - Trio D'Anches
Ritournelle: Andantino
Aubade: Scherzando
Simon Powis - guitar and Jeanell Carrigan - piano
Joaquín Rodrigo Concerto de Aranquez


Second Interval


Jason Xanthoudakis - Saxophone


Back to the Calendar of Events 2004

There are only two known sources of biographical information concerning the guitarist-composer Johann Kaspar Mertz; The Memoirs of Makaroff, by Nicolai Makaroff (1810-1890), a contemporary of Mertz and also a guitarist, and a short essay written by Mertz's widow, Josephine Mertz, forty years after her husband's death. The validity of Josephine's essay is questionable both for the amount of time that had passed since the death of Mertz and also due to the fact that this was the same wife that had administered an entire prescription of strychnine, which is essentially a poison, in one near fatal dose to her husband in 1846. N eedless to say there is little information regarding the composer, and the historical reliability on what information remains, is suspect.

According to Josephine's essay, Johann was born in Pressburg, now Bratislava, on August 17 1806 of poor parents. By 1840 he had moved to Vienna where he enjoyed the status of a virtuoso guitarist and flautist, being the recipient of the direct patronage of Empress Caroline Augusta. Johann toured Moravia, Poland, Russia and met his future wife in Dresden on a tour through Germany: the couple was married in Prague in 1842. Josephine is thought to have had a significant impact upon the composer. Josephine was herself a competent pianist and introduced Mertz to the contemporary repertoire of Mendelssohn, Schubert, Schumann and Chopin. These influences are reflected in Mertz's compositions, as he was the only guitar composer of the time to use harmonic language that was in step with the musical mainstream. In his Memoirs, Makaroff writes the following observations of Mertz's music: '…the music played by Mertz, to which I listened with ever-growing rapture, contained everything -- rich composition, great musical knowledge, excellent development of an idea, unity, novelty, grandeur of style, absence of trivial expression and multiplicity of harmonic effects.' This glowing critique contrasts starkly to his opinion of other contemporary composers such as Matteo Carcassi (1792-1853) and Joseph Kuffner (1776-1856); '…worthless rubbish, cooked up by talentless modern composers…' The majority of other guitar composers of that day such as Ferdinand Carulli, Mauro Giuliani and Fernando Sor were composing in a rather anachronistic style that resembled that of the classical period. This anachronistic style was one of the main reasons for the instrument's wane in popularity by the 1840s and 1850s. The decline in the instruments popularity gives some reason for the limited information regarding Mertz and why his music lay silent until 1980 before it was re-discovered by American guitarist David Leisner.

Mertz's Elegy, written at the end of his life, is considered to be the composer's masterpiece. Its inventive use of harmony and complete exploitation of the guitar's melodic ability, display the height of Mertz's oeuvre. A slow introduction with piano-like arpeggiations in the accompaniment leads into a soaring romantic melody that is highly decorative. An indispensable technique adopted by Mertz was that of being able to differentiate the melody from accompaniment on the guitar. The guitars employed by Mertz were drastically different from those of today, being highly unbalanced in regards to projecting an equal volume from all six strings; these early guitars lent themselves to pieces that require projection of upper voices. Modern guitars, however, are far more balanced over the six strings and it is quite a technical feat to emulate the same independence in the melody. The work takes the listener on a profound emotional journey with its often operatic intensity.


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