Of his career, Khuner liked to say that he was a "useful" musician, but those who played with him marveled at his memory, his musical knowledge (he could cover nearly every orchestral part) and his outspoken opinions.
Kurt Adler solicited his advice often about orchestral matters, and on one occasion a cut in a score bothered him so much he offered Adler $200 not to make it.
Robert Commanday, former senior music critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, was first to suggest Felix Khuner as one of the Bay Area's top candidates for an oral history. And although Khuner often claimed that his story would not be of
interest to anyone, he enjoyed telling it, with typical candid good humor.
During our five interview sessions, all of which took place in the living room of the Khuner's home just to the north of the University of California, Berkeley campus, Mr. Khuner often picked up his violin to illustrate something he was talking
about--a bowing technique or a remembered performance, and just as often he brought an interview to an abrupt end with a not particularly germane story. During the sessions, Mrs. Khuner would often be playing Bach on the piano with a friend in the back room, and
son Eliot Khuner, a professional photographer, occasionally listened in and supplied dates or answered questions.
Many of the subjects in the interviews were only touched upon, because Felix Khuner died before he had a chance to review and add to the transcripts. But his freshness of spirit and irreverence for all things pretentious shines through. We
have indicated in the text where materials were shifted to make it read more clearly.
We could not have finished the oral history except for the dedication of one of the Khuner daughters, Margo Khuner Leslie, who transcribed the tapes (Mr. Khuner's still- German accent sometimes made understanding the tapes hard), helped
with the editing, final typed and indexed the manuscript. Son Jonathan Khuner reviewed the text for accuracy, son Eliot Khuner provided photographs, and close friend and colleague Tom Heimberg wrote an insightful introduction to the volume.
Regarding donors to the oral history, all were friends of classical music, and many were devotees of the Berkeley Opera, where Felix Khuner played several seasons in the orchestra, working with this son
Jonathan, who recently became the company's artistic director. We are grateful to Mrs. Arthur J. Brown, widow of the late distinguished attorney (his history is a part of our Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro oral history series), who asked his friends and colleagues to
memorialize her husband with a gift to the office. A daughter and niece of two foresters interviewed in the 1960s for ROHO's History of Forestry Series, Mrs. Brown designated the gifts to Felix Khuner's oral history in appreciation of the many years that her husband
enjoyed San Francisco Symphony performances.
The Regional Oral History Office was established in 1954 to augment through tape recorded memoirs The Bancroft Library's materials on the history of California and the West. The office is under the direction of Willa K. Baum, and is an administrative division of The Bancroft Library.