Awarded four Emmys and hailed by Variety as "a rare moment in the symbiosis of the arts and broadcasting," Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts left their mark on television history. Aired on CBS from 1958 to 1972, these 53 one-hour programs were written and hosted by Leonard Bernstein. With the New York Philharmonic and guest artists providing the live music, these programs brought musical concepts and music history to life for generations of viewers. "Lectures accompanying music might not sound like the formula of a hit kids' TV program, but Bernstein was the secret ingredient who made it work" (Variety). Balancing scholarship and showmanship, Maestro Bernstein brings the full range of his magnetic personality to play in these programs. And he succeeds in infecting viewers young and old, connoisseurs and the uninitiated, with his overwhelming love of music.
At the start of the first Young People's Concert, Leonard Bernstein told the TV audience: "No matter what stories people tell you about what music means, forget them. Stories are not what music means. Music is never about things. Music just is. It's a lot of beautiful notes and sounds put together so well that we get pleasure out of hearing them. So when we ask: 'What does it mean, what does this piece of music mean?' we're asking a hard question. Let's do our best to answer it." During the course of the first program, the New York Philharmonic performs portions of Rossini's "William Tell" overture, Beethoven's Sixth Symphony and Ravel's "La Valse."