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Industrialist, chocolate manufacturer; long-time pupil of Schenker's.

Business Career

The firm of Jacques Brünauer & Comp. was established as a public company in or before 1883, its trading name being Chocolaterie Française, its premises located at Gürtelstraße 15 in Währing-bei-Wien (later the 18th district (Währing) of Vienna). By 1900, Camilla, Robert Brunauer's mother, was partner in the firm with her husband Jacques (originally Jakob). Robert Brünauer appeared as a signatory to the firm from 1903 onwards. After his father's death in 1916 he became a partner in the company, and after his mother's presumed death in 1927 the sole owner. In 1933, after the annexation of Austria to Germany, the company was listed as in liquidation.

Brünauer: Life

From 1904 to 1916, Robert lived at Eroicagasse 15, in the 19th district (Döbling) of Vienna, north of Heiligenstadt. By 1907 he was married (OJ 1/6, p. 44), his first wife being Ida. During World War I he did military service in the Vienna arsenal, so was able to continue his work in the factory. His marriage had evidently broken up by 1919, when his wife and children were living in Berlin (OJ 2/14, p. 2051). He re-married in September or October 1920 (OJ 3/1, p. 2279), and this wife left him in 1923 (OJ 3/4, p. 2512). From 1921 to 1938 he lived at Bartensteingasse 3 in the 1st district (Innere Stadt), close to the Rathaus. In 1925 he had a daughter, Ulrike (OJ 3/7, p. 2810).

Brünauer was deported on October 28, 1941 to the Łódź (Littmannstadt) ghetto, where he was housed at Gnesenstraße 26 under conditions of forced labor. He died there, presumably of starvation or disease, on June 1 or 2, 1942.

Brünauer and Schenker

Schenker first entered the Brünauer home on October 4, 1903 (OJ 1/4, p. 10); he became a regular visitor thereafter and often went to the theater and concerts with Robert, sometimes together with the Robert's first wife. Brünauer had already become a pupil of Schenker in the fall of either 1900 or 1902 (OJ 4/1, p. 3151; OJ 6/8, [1]), and thus belonged to the cohort of students including Angi Elias, Marianne Kahn, and Sofie Deutsch. He is included in the last surviving lessonbook, 1930/31, and the draft lesson notes for 1931/32 (OC 3/1-4; OC 16/19-24, 47), and maintained lessons with Schenker throughout the 1932/33 season, but did not enroll for 1934/35.

Brünauer was evidently generous to Heinrich and Jeanette, supplying them with candy (which, since Schenker was diabetic, they seem to have used for barter), and in 1918 offered Schenker 5,000 Kronen to assist with the publishing costs of Kontrapunkt 2 (which Schenker rejected because Elias had already offered more for the same purpose: OJ 2/10, pp. 896–897, 898, June 1, 1918). He was also involved that year in the abortive plan for a Festschrift to mark Schenker's 50th birthday. It was Brünauer, too, who suggested to Schenker that he sit for the artist Viktor Hammer (OJ 2/10, pp. 900–901, June 11, 1918), a plan that came to fruition in 1924–25. Contrarily, he was often late in paying his fees, sometimes paying at the previous year's rate and having to be reprimanded. Thus Schenker had an ambivalent relationship with him. The two men had frequent conversations, and disagreed sharply on social and political issues.

In a letter to Hammer on December 2, 1923 (JOB 94-3, [6]) he made the following disparaging remarks: I have held on to this truly pitiable person out of pure compassion for twenty years now, making for him (only for him, and once again out of compassion) the greatest sacrifices of time and money [...] I keep Brünauer on just out of compassion ‒ I always worry that he will do away with himself, even today I am his only advocate ‒ but I kick out the other rich men if they don't leave their moneyed pride at my door.

Judging from the repertory that he played (solo piano works, piano concertos, much Brahms), and from the length and detail of his lessonbook entries, Brünauer was a considerable pianist and commanded Schenker's serious attention. The lessons, two per week, appear to have been purely pianistic, with little sign of theoretical studies (though on January 9, 1928, Brünauer asked Schenker to "introduce" him to thoroughbass (OJ 4/1, p. 3164), which Schenker began on February 9 (Lessonbook 1927/28, p. 8)), and little sign of analytical studies of orchestral or chamber works before 1929. After this time, however, Brünauer began preparing analytical graphs; moreover, there is evidence that Schenker himself prepared materials in advance for Brünauer, and that his lessons with the latter were fertile for Schenker's own analytical thinking (OC 38/73, filed among papers for Der freie Satz, can be traced to lessons with Brünauer in 1929).

Brünauer's Intellectual Contribution

Brünauer studied Beethoven's "Eroica" Variations with Schenker in the first part of the 1926/27 teaching year. The following year he took Schenker by surprise: Brünauer astonishes me with an extraordinarily elegant, visionary observation about the first movement of the "Eroica": the neighbor-note aę 2, which Beethoven approaches right from the beginning with a [crescendo mark]; he sees this move, this manifestation of diminution, as a driving force through the entire work. I agree with him immediately most joyfully, with the reservation that it needs closer investigation. (November 14, 1927: diary pp. 3134-3135).

Soon after this, Schenker resumed work on what was to become his study of the "Eroica" Symphony in Meisterwerk III . There, Brünauer's idea, though nowhere acknowledged, became a central structural feature in Schenker's interpretation of the first movement.

"Die Urlinie: Eine Entgegnung"

In 1930 Walter Riezler, a friend of Wilhelm Furtwängler, wrote an article expressing skepticism about the recent course of Schenker's theoretical work. This was published as "Über die 'Urlinie'," Die Musik xxii/7 (April 1930), 502–10 (clipping preserved as OC 2/p. 80, [5]). As Schenker was unwilling to reply himself, Furtwängler suggested that Hans Weisse write a response; however, in the meantime Brünauer volunteered, his response was discussed in his lessons of April 10, 17, and 24, and Schenker approved it. A nine-page carbon copy of the typescript text, with pencil corrections and Jeanette Schenker's inscription "Riezler–Brünauer," is preserved as OJ 21/24. The typescript was sent to Weisse to be forwarded to Furtwängler (OJ 4/3, p. 3471), for the latter to submit to Die Musik; but the response never appeared in print.

In "Die Urlinie: Eine Entgegnung", Brünauer distinguishes crucially between the "theorist" (Riezler) and the "practical artist" (Schenker). Riezler, who thinks in terms merely of motives and labeled harmonies, lacks the capacity to understand Schenker's visionary concepts of Urlinie and Ursatz, hence is unable to detect "the breath of diminution, which speeds the composition through the tonal space that it has itself created, speeding it in such away that the entire outpouring of a masterwork rushes past like a single outburst."

Correspondence with Schenker

From Schenker's diaries, it is clear that the two men corresponded a great deal; however, only three items survive, OC 52/636 (1925 – gathering information on sales of Der Tonwille), 44/15, 16 (1934 – written from the Grand Hotel and the Hotel Imperial, both in Vienna); additionally, OC 52/638 is a receipt from Albert J. Gutmann for payment of his 1924 subscription to Der Tonwille. One letter from Brünauer to Otto Vrieslander survives as OJ 71/37, dating between 1904 and 1916. Compositions by Brünauer survive as OC 41 (Waltz, Op. 39, No. 1) and OC 42 (arrangement of a keyboard piece by C. P. E. Bach, with Schenker's emendations).


  • Bent, Ian, "Heinrich Schenker and Robert Brünauer: Relations with a Musical Industrialist," Festschrift Hellmut Federhofer zum 100. Geburtstag, ed. Axel Beer (Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 2011), pp. 25-37


  • Lehmann's Allgemeiner Wohnungs-Anzeiger [street directory of Vienna] (Vienna: A. Hölder, 1859-1942)
  • Dokumentationsarchiv des oesterreichischen Widerstandes:
  • Łódź-Names: List of the Ghetto Inhabitants, 1940-1944, volume 5, "Supplementary Volume" :
  • Private communications from Robert Kosovsky


  • Ian Bent, with Marko Deisinger

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  • WSLB 37 Handwritten letter from Schenker to Hertzka (UE), March 28, 1909

    Schenker suggests a meeting at Robert Brünauer's home.

  • OC 52/36 Typewritten letter from Hertzka (UE) to Schenker, dated March 29, 1909

    Hertzka welcomes the prospect of a discussion at the home of Robert Brüunauer.

  • WSLB 41 Handwritten postcard from Schenker to Hertzka (UE), dated July 1, 1909

    Schenker asks for the three previously requested editions to be sent as soon as possible so as to arrive before he departs for vacation.— He also asks for Richard Stöhr's Harmonielehre.

  • OC 1 B/15 Handwritten draft letter from Schenker to Carl Colbert, dated September 15, 1912

    Schenker explains why he deprecates strongly giving a student only one lesson a week and positively recommends two or three; he leaves the matter to Colbert, but gives him a difficult choice.

  • OJ 15/34, [2] Handwritten letter from Viktor Zuckerkandl to Heinrich Schenker, undated [August 20, 1915]

    Zuckerkandl reports on life in the military.

  • OJ 14/45, [10] Handwritten letter from Moriz Violin to Heinrich Schenker, dated February 5, 1918

    Schenker, Violin alleges, has accused him of a dearth of subject matter in letter writing; Violin defends himself on grounds that his life has been disrupted by military service and the impact of that on his physical and mental state. He accuses Schenker of insensitivity, and treating him like his pupils. He defends his wife for giving food to the Schenkers, and explains her motivation for so doing.

  • OJ 6/6, [7] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated March 20, 1918

    [50th Festschrift:] Schenker intends not to influence anyone in their decision to contribute or not. — [Personal issues:] Schenker agrees to draw a line under issues discussed in OJ 6/6, [6]; however, he accounts for his epistolary silence regarding Valerie Violin, including the possible contact with Seligmann; he attempts to explain the matter of the jars of jam and the absence of visits to Schönbrunn, describing vividly how tirelessly Jeanette works and how dependent they both are on Sunday for work time; he expresses outrage that he and Jeanette live so poorly while his pupils live lives of luxury, commenting bitterly on state of play over the Sofie Deutsch stipend; he wishes the Violins well for their 6-month stay in Marburg.

  • OJ 6/7, [1] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated June 13, 1921

    Schenker gives an account of the move into Keilgasse 8 and describes his study in the apartment. He outlines his holiday plans, and explains how he is raising the fees for lessons in the autumn.

  • JOB 94-3, [5] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Hammer dated October 24, 1923

    Schenker invites Hammer and his wife for November 7; — The problem of the "middleman" (performer, etc.) in music, by contrast with painting; — he reports on Hertzka's proposal to make Tonwille a quarterly publication.

  • JOB 94-3, [6] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Hammer dated December 2, 1923

    Schenker has heard nothing from Eugen Steinhof; — he commends Hammer's reaction to Halm's work, and comments unfavorably on the latter's musicianship, character, and opinions; — he writes disparagingly of Robert Brünauer.

  • OJ 6/7, [18] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated February 22, 1925

    Schenker thanks Violin for his recent letter (and enclosure), which contains evidence of Hertzka's false calculations of subscriptions to Der Tonwille – this letter in stark contrast to the actions of his pupils Weisse and Brünauer, who had given more support to the publication of Weisse's recently published vocal quartets than to his writings. Leaving Der Tonwille behind, which has earned him little money and caused him much misery, he has written a lengthy study of Bach's solo violin works, which will be published in the first volume of Das Meisterwerk in der Musik, which will include a critique of Ernst Kurth's Grundlagen des linearen Kontrapunkts.

  • OJ 6/7, [27] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated January 15, 1926

    Schenker agrees to to teach Violin's pupil Agnes Becker twice a week, as soon as she is ready to come to Vienna. He reports Furtwängler's disillusionment with modern music, and notes that Weingartner and Julius Korngold have expressed similar sentiments. He is not optimistic that humanity in general will truly understand the classics, which underscores the important of his (and Violin's) mission.

  • OJ 6/7, [30] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated December 19, 1926

    Schenker expresses his delight that his friend received sufficient financial help to be able to move into a new apartment for the sake of his son Karl's health. He reports having shown Agnes Becker some straightforward examples of the Urlinie, out of desperation (she shows little aptitude for piano playing), and then explains that a great deal of time, patience and faith are needed to understand such things. Of his current pupils, only Elias, Brünauer, Hoboken and (to some extent) Albersheim are capable of following the ramifications of the new theory, which he sees as his unique gift to the world. At present, he is working on his "crowning work," Free Composition.

  • OJ 6/7, [36] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated December 29, 1927

    Sending greetings for the New Year, Schenker expresses the hope that his friend's fortunes will begin to improve in 1928. He agrees with Violin's pronouncements on Vrieslander’s character and ability to convey Schenker's thoughts, and has no idea of what to expect in Vrieslander's (supposedly) forthcoming monograph on him. Weisse, whom he regards as a more skilled interpreter of his work, has announced plans for a monthly journal, Die Tonkunst, to be edited with his pupils Oswald Jonas and Felix Salzer, which will be based exclusively on Schenker's theoretical approach. But he is afraid that Weisse might leave Vienna, to teach at Damrosch's music school.

  • OJ 6/7, [41] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated February 27, 1929

    Schenker thanks Violin for his concerns, describes how they survived the cold weather earlier in February, reports that his monograph on the "Eroica" Symphony is finished and that he has written an article about the Photogram Archive, which has acquired over seven thousand pages of manuscripts. He looks forward to seeing his friend in the summer.

  • OJ 6/7, [48] Handwritten letter from Schenker to Moriz Violin, dated May 19, [1930]

    After congratulating Violin on moving house, Schenker reports that an article that is critical of the "Urlinie", by Walter Riezler, has apparently offended Furtwängler, a childhood friend of the author. Furtwängler hoped that Hans Weisse might write a response; in the end, Brünauer wrote one, and Weisse has sent it to Furtwängler. Schenker has himself replied to an article by Eduard Beninger in the February 1930 issue of the Zeitschrift für Musik. Owing to overwork, he was required to rest during the day between lessons; now he is better. Oppel is again coming to Galtür and Schenker hopes that Violin will join him there, too.

  • OJ 15/16, [65] Handwritten letter from Weisse to Schenker, dated November 27, 1930

    Weisse thanks Schenker for the essay "Rameau oder Beethoven?". He is surprised to hear that Jonas has sought Schenker's help in finding employment, and urges Schenker not to write a letter of recommendation until a concrete piece of work materializes. He is about to go to Berlin to deliver two lectures on Schenker's theories, and has heard that Moriz Violin and Reinhard Oppel will be there; he would like to give one of these lectures at Schenker's home before a small audience of his most dedicated pupils, and suggests a date and time for this.

  • OJ 12/9, [26] Handwritten letter from Karpath to Schenker, dated February 3, 1931

    Karpath replies to a letter from Schenker showing himself to be in need of help. — Karpath reports on contact with Robert Brünauer, who was seeking financial support.

  • OC 30/18-30 Draft letter from Schenker to Albert Einstein, undated [November 20, 1932]

    In this unsent letter, Schenker tells Einstein about his works and the difficulties he has encountered in promoting them, and calls upon the physicist for help in gaining financial support for the publication of Free Composition.

  • OJ 10/18, [5] Handwritten letter from Elias to Schenker, dated June 17, 1933

    Miss Elias sends best wishes for Schenker's birthday, and reports a visit from Robert Brünauer. — She encloses an "assessment" by Paul Stephan of a concert conducted by Carl Bamberger.



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