BRAUNEIS, JEAN-CHRYSOSTOME, musician; b. Quebec, 26 Jan. 1814; son of Jean-Chrysostome Brauneis and Christine Hudson; m. Jeanet Johnson by whom he had several children; d. Montreal, Que., 11 Aug. 1871.
Jean-Chrysostome Brauneis’ father was a German-born bandmaster and music teacher who gave his son his first music lessons. Probably the first Canadian to go abroad to further his musical education, young Brauneis studied in Europe from 1830 to 1833. Upon his return he was offered the position of organist at Montreal’s Notre-Dame Church and occupied it until 1844. He reapplied for this post unsuccessfully in 1849. He was also organist at St James Cathedral until fire destroyed the building in 1857. He held various teaching positions, for 30 years at the Institut des Soeurs de la Congrégation Notre-Dame and for shorter periods at the residential school of the sisters of the Sacred Heart at Sault-au-Récollet and at the École Normale Jacques-Cartier in Montreal.
In 1837 Brauneis founded the Société de Musique, which apparently was short-lived. Five years later he established courses in vocal music – sacred, drawing room, and operatic – for students aged 15 to 25 (males and females separated) and a mixed class for children from 10 to 15. Brauneis’ skill in handling beginners made the course a success and an expansion was soon planned. An advertisement which appeared in La Minerve on 3 Nov. 1842 reveals Brauneis’ vocal method as the standard German one which he learned from a distinguished European artist; he claimed perfect knowledge of French, English, German, and Italian and singled out Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and Handel as the masters represented in his collection of music. Brauneis’ love of the great classics also pervaded his work as organist and piano teacher. His colleague Gustave Smith, who first met him in 1856, has credited Brauneis with introducing the piano study pieces of Czerny, Cramer, and Clementi to Montreal and with turning out well-trained pupils who were good sight-readers.
Like any other pioneer musician, Brauneis had to be versatile, both to obtain a living and to make up for the lack of specialists. At one time or another he advertised as an instrument importer and piano tuner and teacher of theory, harp, guitar, and violin. He was also a composer. A mass, dedicated to the Reverend Joseph-Vincent Quiblier*, was reviewed at length in La Minerve of 16 July 1835. Brauneis’ first work to be heard in Montreal, at Notre-Dame Church on 12 July, it was praised for the skill of its part-writing and many other virtues. The singers were accompanied by five instruments although the work was scored for a larger orchestra. Three of his compositions have been traced: the Marche de la St. Jean Baptiste, published in Montreal in 1848, dedicated to the members of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste of Montreal; The Montreal Bazaar Polka, published not later than 1848; and Monklands Polka, published in Philadelphia, New York, and Montreal in 1849.
When a youth Brauneis is said to have considered a medical career, an ambition fulfilled by one of his grandsons, Louis de Lotbinière* Harwood. But as a musician he has left his name in the history of the arts in Canada. Gustave Smith described Brauneis as a man with “a stern appearance and a bantering manner”; the obituary in La Minerve (14 Aug. 1871) stresses his unselfish devotion to his pupils, his honest and humble personality, and his industriousness.
AJM, Registre d’état civil. AJQ, Registre d’état civil, Paroisse Notre-Dame. Le Canadien (Québec), 10 avril 1837. L’Encyclopédie canadienne (Montréal), janv. 1843. La Minerve (Montréal), 18 nov. 1833; 14 mai, 16 juill. 1835; 3 nov. 1842; 3 août 1843; 25 mai 1844; 26 sept. 1864; 14 août 1871. Helmut Kallmann, A history of music in Canada, 1534–1914 (Toronto and London, 1960), 84–85, 188. O.-M.-H. Lapalice, “Les organistes et maîtres de musique à Notre-Dame de Montréal,” BRH, XXV (1919), 243–49. É.-Z. Massicotte, “Les deux musiciens Braunies,” BRH, XLI (1935), 641–43. Gustave Smith, “Du mouvement musical en Canada,” L’Album musical (Montréal), févr. 1882.