Jazz pianist George Mesterhazy at the Merion Inn in Cape May June 27, 2007.

The southern New Jersey music community was in mourning Friday over the passing of well-known and Grammy nominated jazz pianist George Mesterhazy, who died Thursday.

Friends said Mesterhazy had died in his sleep of natural causes.

A jazz musician for the past 30 years, Mesterhazy, 59, was known for being the pianist and manager at the Merion Inn in Cape May.

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Mesterhazy was born in Austria and his family came to America in 1959. He moved to Somers Point when he was a teenager and developed his love of music while he attended Mainland Regional High School. He was a self-taught pianist.

Mesterhazy’s piano playing was first heard in public at the now defunct Club Harlem in Atlantic City. He performed at every Atlantic City casino except the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and Revel.

Mesterhazy composed his own music and has done records with different jazz singers, including Paula West. In 1998, he accompanied jazz singer Shirley Horn on “Loving You,” which was nominated for a Grammy Award.

The pianist also was a familiar face at the Cape May Jazz Festival, where he played multiple times. He also frequently performed in Somers Point, where played at the first annual Somers Point Jazz Society Benefit Concert in 2009.

A celebration of George Mesterhazy will be held on Sunday at the Middle Township Performing Arts Center, 212 Bayberry Drive, Cape May Court House. Doors open at noon for friends and family to gather. The celebration starts at 2 p.m.

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