Biographical Note - Frantz Brogniez
Although Frantz Brogniez was an accomplished musician, a violinist and composer, he was best known publicly for being an award-winning brewmaster. Born October 26, 1860, in Hainaut, Belgium, into a family that had been outstanding in the brewing arts for 260 years, Frantz Brogniez in 1881 entered the University of Louvain to study engineering and biochemistry. He did further study at the Louis Pasteur Institute in France. While working in a brewery in Lichterveld, he developed the first “blond” beer in Belgium.
Intending to continue using his skills as a brewmaster, he came to America, settling in Detroit. In 1896 he established a brewery and operated it until 1904, when he left to develop a brewing establishment in Terre Haute, Indiana, which he expanded into one of the largest in the country. When his wife became ill and needed to live in a warmer climate, in 1912 the Brogniez family moved to Houston, where Frantz took charge of the Houston Ice and Brewing Company. He developed this business from a small concern to the largest brewing company south of Milwaukee.
Perhaps just as important as a business opportunity, Brogniez found in Houston a fellow Belgian, Julien Paul Blitz, described as “a musician of taste and an excellent cellist.” [The Houston Symphony Orchestra, 1913-1971, p. 16] With fellow musicians drawn chiefly from what Blitz described as the Belgian colony of Houston, Blitz provided chamber music—quartettes, trios, sonatas, suites, and other music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and Franz Schubert—as well as the waltzes of Strauss and Lehar, at Houston’s finest public dining facility, Sauter’s Restaurant.
It seems highly likely that Frantz Brogniez played violin at least informally with Blitz. It is certain that he was part of the activity that led to the formation of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. Blitz had had the idea of forming a symphony orchestra but was unable to find financial backing. At the same time, there was an informal committee of women including Miss Ima Hogg, who had been looking at the possibility of bringing about establishment of a symphony orchestra in Houston. When Blitz met with Miss Hogg in search of financial support, she, with the agreement of the informal committee friends, proposed a trial concert with Julien Paul Blitz as conductor of a provisional organization. If the trial concert was successful, they would attempt to schedule others.
When the concert took place on June 21, 1913, the critic writing in the Houston Post said, “The concert in many ways was a revelation to Houstonians, who, while realizing in a sort of offhand way that there is much musical talent in Houston, were yet unaware of the intensity of music study and the breadth of understanding and artistic conception of the majority of Houston musicians.”[quoted in The Houston Symphony Orchestra, 1913-1971, pp. 18,19] The good attendance was considered a gratifying fact, and the informal committee was pleased with Blitz’s work as an organizer and leader.
The following October, Miss Hogg arranged for a meeting to take place including both the people who had helped produce the trial concert and those who had shown strong interest in its outcome. The result of this meeting was organization of the Houston Symphony Association for the purpose of establishing a local symphony orchestra and scheduling a series of concerts. Officers were elected: as president, Mrs. Edwin Parker; as first vice president, Miss Hogg; and as second vice president, Frantz Brogniez.
Though busy with musical activities, Brogniez had another noteworthy accomplishment in 1913. His Southern Select beer won the Grand Prix of the Exposition Universelle de Belgique in Ghent at the international Congress of Brewers, in competition with 4,096 brewmasters from all over the world.
A writer in the Houston Chronicle of August 17, 1913, commented that a beer that could win the grand prize in beer-loving Belgium “put Milwaukee out of the running and leaves St. Louis nowhere.”
When in 1920 Prohibition ended beer production in the United States, Brogniez accepted a job offer at a small brewery in Juarez, Mexico. He and his family lived immediately across the border in El Paso until Prohibition ended in 1933. Brogniez then returned to Houston, thanks to friends of Howard Hughes who talked Hughes into getting into the beer business. Hughes agreed to start a beer company if Frantz Brogniez would serve as brewmaster. Brogniez accepted, and Hughes built the Gulf Brewing Company according to plans prepared by Brogniez.
In 1935 at the age of 75, Frantz Brogniez died, thus unfortunately unable to see the flourishing of either the Houston Symphony Orchestra or the Gulf Brewing Company (which, however, became operated by his son). Among the accomplishments that outlive him are the twelve compositions in this collection, which his widow, Alice G. Brogniez, had copyrighted in 1944. Of particular interest to Rice University, where the manuscripts are located, is “Students’ March,” dated December 1899. Included with the manuscript are the following words:
Let’s cheer for Rice
Yes, shout for Rice
With flag unfurling
Let’s back their flight
With all our might
Rice has the best team
The best team has Rice!!
(The work cited within is Hubert Roussel, The Houston Symphony Orchestra, 1913-1971 , Austin and London, The University of Texas Press, 1972.)
Biographical Note - John R. Cardone
John R. Cardone was known as the "postman composer." He was born on June 15, 1915 in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Coraopolis High School, he attended Carnegie Tech (Carnegie Mellon) University and the University of Pittsburgh to study classical music. He also spent a year at the Royal Conservatory in Naples, Italy. After returning to Pittsburgh in 1935, Cardone became ill with tuberculosis. He was unable to play the French horn and began studying orchestration and composition. He moved to Houston, Texas in 1958 and was employed as a postman, composing music during lunch breaks and his spare time.
Primarily self-taught, Cardone played the piano and violin in addition to the French horn. His musical compositions included marches, gavottes, sonatas, symphonies, and popular ballads. They were performed by Houston area groups including the University of Houston Band, the Houston Summer Symphony Orchestra, and the Houston Municipal Band. He passed away on March 29, 2005.