The valved horn was invented about 1815 and had advantages over the natural horn. It was a fully chromatic instrument, therefore crooks were no longer necessary and the hand in the bell technique was no longer used for pitch change. But as with all new things, it took time to be accepted. Despite the problems of the natural horn, some preferred its tone to the valved counterpart. Even in 1849 when Schumann wrote the Konzertstück For Four Horns And Orchestra it was not assured that orchestras used valved horns. Schumann himself wrote for a pair of valved horns and a pair of natural horns in the work, but four valved horns are usually used in a modern performance.
This work is seldom played, perhaps because it calls for four virtuoso horn players.
The work is in three movements with the 2nd and 3rd played without pause:
I. Lebhaft (Lively) - The orchestra begins with two loud chords, and the horn quartet comes in and plays a fanfare. The horns seldom have a rest as they have a spirited dialogue with the orchestra. Schumann was fond of the horn and utilizes all the qualities of expressivity of the instrument in this movement, from tenderness to forcefulness.
II. Romanze - The soft and gentle chords of the horns are the feature if this short movement, which leads directly to...
III. Sehr lebhaft (Very lively) - A return to the mood of the first movement as Schumann has the soloist imitate each other until they come together in a fine statement of horn harmony. The dialogue continues until the finale, when the orchestra and the horns join together and close the work.