Hailed as a critical and popular success since its premiere in December 1944, Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra is most often discussed as the accessible masterpiece that helped launch a posthumous resurgence of the composer's earlier musical output. Yet the historical and aesthetic significance of this work in relation to American orchestral life-and Serge Koussevitzky's Boston Symphony Orchestra in particular-remains largely ignored. The Concerto for Orchestra can be viewed through the lens of what might be called "collective virtuosity": a concept that describes the performance of a work whose challenging musical language requires a heightened level of artistic teamwork. Described through musical analysis and strengthened by archival research and management theory, this phenomenon reflects a multitude of historical and social developments that are particularly salient to the story surrounding Bartók's Concerto, thus serving as a useful analytic tool that reveals new insights concerning the work and its popular success in America.
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