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Austrian industrialist, and a major Schenker benefactor in the early 1930s.

Paul Khuner was the son of Gottfried Friedrich Khuner (1854–1912) who, together with his father Emanuel Mendel Khuner (1829–85) founded a company that manufactured cooking fats. At their factory in Atzgersdorf, established in 1895, they invented and produced an early form of margarine which they named "Kunerol"; the family fortune was based on this product. A monument to the family survives in the form of a country house in Payerbach, near the town of Semmering in Lower Austria, which was designed by Adolf Loos (in collaboration with another Moravian-born architect, Heinrich Kulka) in 1928 and completed in 1930.

Khuner and Schenker

Paul’s wife Hedwig (née Sommer) was a piano pupil of Hans Weisse; it is through this connection that Schenker received from Khuner, on November 27, 1931, the sum of 5,000 Austrian shillings to help defray the production costs of Der freie Satz (this is mentioned briefly in Federhofer, Heinrich Schenker, nach Tagebüchern und Briefen, p. 38). His name appears several times in Weisse's letters to the Schenkers; Khuner and Schenker also corresponded, but a proposed meeting never came to fruition in the year between Khuner's act of generosity and his untimely death at the age of 48.

The money from Khuner arrived around the time that Wilhelm Furtwängler raised a similar sum, 3,000 marks, to help cover the production costs of the "Eroica" Symphony essay ( Meisterwerk III). Both payments were received when Schenker's life was in financial crisis: the theorist was taking legal action against his brother Moriz over the non-repayment of a large loan. But Schenker never acknowledged the generosity of either benefactor, and Weisse was particularly aggrieved that Khuner’s name went unrecorded in Der freie Satz: The end of the foreword is more than a little alienating, in that it gives the illusion that the publication of the book was due entirely to Anthony van Hoboken; and Mr. Khuner does not get so much as a syllable's worth of thanks. I must admit that this touched me most painfully. (OJ 15/16, [99], July 14, 1935 to Jeanette Schenker)

In a letter to Hoboken of September 17, 1932, when announcing that Der freie Satz was at last finished, Schenker commented with reference to Khuner: I have [...] lived to see the contribution of a local industrialist (procured by Dr. Weisse), despite all precaution by me and by my attorney, substantially dwindle! (OJ 89/5, [6])

Khuner’s widow emigrated to the United States in 1938, the year that Austria was annexed to Nazi Germany. Weisse died two years later, six weeks short of his 48th birthday.


  • William Drabkin

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