In the early 1930s, while the world economy was disintegrating and German politics were descending into barbarism, Anton Webern retreated into his world of strictly organized sounds. Webern first sketched the work that would become his Konzert, Op. 24, on January, 16, 1931; it began life as a single-movement orchestral piece inspired by his visit to his parents' graves, and based on a twelve-tone row so tightly organized that the standard 48 permutations were reduced to only 12. As the work grew into three movements, Webern continued distilling its essence and concentrating its form. In the final version, Webern reduced the number of instruments to nine -- flute, oboe, and clarinet; horn, trumpet, and trombone; violin, viola, and piano. The Konzert was completed on September 13, 1934, and dedicated to Webern's teacher and friend Arnold Schoenberg.
The opening movement (in duple time, marked Etwas lebhaft), is in three parts with an introduction and postlude; each section is clearly articulated by tempo markings. Each section is more intensely worked out then the one before it, culminating in a fortissimo stringendo climax at the end of the third section. The central movement is a brief, gentle waltz for muted instruments in two sections; the closing movement is a quick dance for winds, strings, and muted brass above the piano, rushing headlong toward a climactic chord in the winds, brass, and piano in the final bars.