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BLITZ, JULIEN PAUL

BLITZ, JULIEN PAUL (1885–1951). Julien Paul Blitz, cellist, professor, and conductor, was born in Ghent, Belgium, on May 21, 1885, the son of Edouard E. and Mattie Louise (Miller) Blitz. His father was a renowned violinist, music teacher, and conductor, and his mother, from Ohio, was an acclaimed pianist. Blitz arrived in the United States when he was two years old and studied piano and violin as a child. He returned to Belgium for study and graduated from the Royal Conservatory in Ghent in 1905. In 1906–07 he was a music professor at Baylor Female College in Belton, Texas. In 1907, in Belton, he wrote the "Bell County March," a piano solo dedicated to county sheriff D. C. Burkes. As a young man Blitz also performed as soloist with several orchestras, including ensembles in Chicago and New York, and received recognition in the United States and abroad.

By 1912 he was director of the Treble Clef Club, a women's singing organization in Houston. He was founding conductor of the Houston Symphony Orchestra and conducted the orchestra's first trial concert on June 21, 1913, at the 600-seat Majestic Theatre at Texas and Milam. The original ensemble consisted of thirty-five musicians, with Benjamin Steinfelt serving as concertmaster. The performance garnered enough support that the orchestra could open its first season on December 19, 1913. Blitz continued as conductor until 1916. During his time in Houston he taught music and also conducted the Blitz Orchestra at the Rice Hotel. From 1917 to 1922 he was conductor of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra. In 1920 he was co-director of the San Antonio College of Music.

On January 24, 1921, Blitz married Flora Briggs, a San Antonio pianist. They had one son, Edouard. Blitz and his wife gave many performances together and are credited as the first two professional instrumentalists to perform live on radio in Texas (station WOAI in San Antonio in 1922). From 1930 to 1934 Blitz was director of music at Kidd-Key College in Sherman. In the 1930s and 1940s he headed the music department at Texas Tech in Lubbock. He moved to Dallas in 1950, conducted workshops in cello, and performed as guest cellist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. He died in Dallas on July 17, 1951. In 1997 the "Bell County March" was given to the Bell County Museum by Dewitt J. Lorenz, Noema Dahlke, and Catherine Jean Duncan, grandchildren of Sheriff Burkes.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Julien Paul Blitz Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Hubert Roussel, The Houston Symphony Orchestra, 1913–1971 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1972). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Susan Love Fitts

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Susan Love Fitts, "BLITZ, JULIEN PAUL," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbl39), accessed August 28, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on September 4, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.