J. K. Mertz – Johann or Joseph? – research by Masami Kimura

On the question of the actual name of Mertz, around the turn of the 20th century guitar writers made assumptions about the initials “J. K.” While in the 1980’s Astrid Stempnik discovered the birth name of Mertz to be “Caspar Joseph,” the earlier writers used either “Joseph Kaspar” or “Johann Kaspar.” Somehow “Johann” became the definitive reading of his initial “J.” and has been repeated over the past 100 years. Repetition does not always make information correct. Mertz never used his full first or second name in promoting himself either in concerts or publications. In fact, even after he died his widow posted advertisements to sell his instruments by using his performing name “J. K. Mertz.”


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