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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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