Concerto for Nine Instruments (Webern)

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Anton Webern's Concerto for Nine Instruments, Op. 24 (German, Konzert für neun Instrumente), Op. 24, written in 1934, is a twelve-tone concerto for nine instruments: flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, trumpet, trombone, violin, viola, and piano. It consists of three movements:

  1. Etwas lebhaft
  2. Sehr langsam
  3. Sehr rasch

The concerto is based on a derived row, "often cited [such as by Milton Babbitt (1972)[full citation needed]] as a paragon of symmetrical construction".[1] The tone row is shown below.[2]

Musical scores are temporarily disabled.

In the words of Luigi Dallapiccola, the concerto is "a work of incredible conciseness... and of unique concentration... . Although I did not understand the work completely, I had the feeling of finding an aesthetic and stylistic unity as great as I could wish for. [Prague, September 5, 1935]".[3]

The second movement "limits quite severely the values of many domains," for example featuring "only two durational values (quarter and half note[s])," and, partly as a result, "features great uniformity in texture and gesture".[4]

The tone row may be interpreted as: 019, 2te, 367, 458.[5]

Musical scores are temporarily disabled.

The opening displays "[the Concerto's] distinctive trichordal structuring," four of which "comprise an aggregate," or partition.[6] "The six combinations of [the partition's] trichords generate three pairs of complementary hexachords".[7] "Webern takes full advantage of this property [its fourfold degree of symmetry] in the Concerto," that under four appropriate transformations (T0T6I5IB), the tone row maintains its unordered trichords (j=019,091,etc., k=2te, l=367, and m=458). The hexachord featured is sometimes called the 'Ode-to-Napoleon' hexachord (014589).[8]

According to Brian Alegant, "[t]he Latin square... clearly shows the built in redundancy of [the] partition," four, and, "needless to say, Webern takes full advantage of this property in the Concerto":[5]

j k l m
l m j k
m l k j
k j m l

For example, I5 = 548, 376, 2et, 109.


  1. ^ Bailey (1996), p.246.
  2. ^ Whittall, Arnold. 2008. The Cambridge Introduction to Serialism. Cambridge Introductions to Music, p. 97. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-68200-8 (pbk).
  3. ^ Bailey, Kathryn (1996). "Symmetry as Nemesis: Webern and the First Movement of the Concerto, Opus 24", p. 245, Journal of Music Theory, Vol. 40, No. 2 (Autumn), pp. 245–310.
  4. ^ Hasty, Christopher (1981). "Segmentation and Process in Post-Tonal Music", pp. 63–64, Music Theory Spectrum, Vol. 3, (Spring), pp. 54–73.
  5. ^ a b Brian Alegant, "Cross-Partitions as Harmony and Voice Leading in Twelve-Tone Music", Music Theory Spectrum 23, no. 1 (Spring 2001), pp. 1–40, citation on p. 5.
  6. ^ Alegant (2001), pp. 2–3.
  7. ^ Alegant (2001), p. 4.
  8. ^ Van den Toorn, Pieter C. (1996). Music, Politics, and the Academy, pp. 128–29. ISBN 0-520-20116-7.

Further readingEdit

  • Gauldin, Robert (1977). "Pitch Structure in the Second Movement of Webern's Concerto Op. 24.", In Theory Only 2, no. 10: 8–22. Cited on p. 38 of Brian Alegant, "Cross-Partitions as Harmony and Voice Leading in Twelve-Tone Music", Music Theory Spectrum 23, no. 1 (Spring 2001), pp. 1–40.
  • Gauldin, Robert (1977). "The Magic Squares of the Third Movement of Webern's Concerto Op. 24." In Theory Only 2, nos. 11–12:32–42. Cited on p, 38 of Alegant 2001.
  • Hartwell, Robin (1979). "Rhythmic Organisation in the Serial Music of Anton Webern". PhD diss. Brighton: University of Sussex.
  • Rahn, John (1980). Basic Atonal Theory. New York: Longman, Inc. ISBN 0-582-28117-2.
  • Stockhausen, Karlheinz (1963 [1953]). "Weberns Konzert für neun Instrumente op. 24". In his Texte zur Musik 1, edited by Dieter Schnebel, 24–31. DuMont Dokumente. Cologne: Verlag M. DuMont Schauberg. [First published in Melos, no. 20 (1953), 343–48.]
  • Straus, Joseph N. (2011). "Contextual-Inversion Spaces". Journal of Music Theory 55, no. 1 (Spring): 43–88.
  • Wintle, Christopher (1982). "Analysis and Performance: Webern's Concerto Op. 24/ii.", Music Analysis 1:73–100. Cited on p. 39 of Alegant 2001; on p. 19 of Jonathan Dunsby, "Guest Editorial: Performance and Analysis of Music", Music Analysis 8, nos. 1–2 (March–July 1989): 5–20; on pp. 74–75 of Catherine Nolan, "Structural Levels and Twelve-Tone Music: A Revisionist Analysis of the Second Movement of Webern's 'Piano Variations' Op. 27", Journal of Music Theory 39, no. 1 (Spring 1995): 47–76; on pp. 324, 328, and 339 of John Rink, "Musical Structure and Performance by Wallace Berry" (review), Music Analysis 9, no. 3 (October 1990), 319–39; on pp. 57 and 88 of Straus 2011; and on pp. 337 and 353 of Whittall 1987.
  • Whittall, Arnold (1987). "Webern and Multiple Meaning". Music Analysis 6, no. 3 (October): 333–53.

External LinksEdit