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Leonard Bernstein - Young People's Concerts / New York Philharmonic

4.8 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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(Sep 28, 2004)
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$86.84
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$86.84 & FREE Shipping. Details Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Broadcast to millions in America and abroad, the immensely popular series was the winner of multiple Emmy, Peabody and Edison awards. Now this national treasure is available for the first time on DVD in a Special Collector's Edition 9-disc set that contains 25 programs from the Young People's Concerts Series.

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Leonard Bernstein earned glory as a composer, conductor, and pianist (classical and jazz), but nothing gave him more pleasure than the joy of teaching. He presented the unique blend of spoken words and music known as the "Young People's Concerts" throughout his tenure as music director of the New York Philharmonic and for several years after. His enjoyment, and his audience's, can be seen vividly captured by the video cameras. He is an intensely interactive teacher, getting his audience to sing, springing a quiz full of trick questions, and singing a Beatles song to demonstrate a point.

Bernstein is completely at ease talking to his audience. He can take the most abstruse subject - the meaning and function of intervals, tonality and atonality, the links between Gustav Mahler's troubled life and his music - and present them to a young audience with clarity, without condescension, and with a clear sense of the material's value. His subject-matter is enormously varied. For Igor Stravinsky's 80th birthday, he simply tells his audience the story of Petrouchka while conducting a dazzling performance of the colorful ballet. For a program on "Folk Music in the Concert Hall," he plays some of Canteloube's folk song arrangements and the boisterous finale of Ives's Symphony No. 2, full of borrowed pop and folk melodies. The influence of folk music is shown in folk song imitations by Mozart and Carlos Chavez.

The sound and images, taped over a 15-year span when the art of recording was rapidly advancing, are varied in quality; the series begins in black-and-white and ends in vivid color. Not all of the programs are equally compelling, but all are worth close and repeated attention. --Joe McLellan


Special Features

  • All 25 programs on nine discs

Product Details

  • Actors: Bernstein, New York Philharmonic
  • Format: Box set, Classical, Color, NTSC, Black & White, Dolby
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: None
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 9
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Kultur Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 28, 2004
  • Run Time: 1500 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002S641O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,629 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Leonard Bernstein - Young People's Concerts / New York Philharmonic" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Verified Purchase
This series of concerts is a truly wonderful achievement. It must surely rank among the finest treasures of the television medium.

Bernstein aside from being a brilliant musician is a wonderful teacher. To think that these concerts were conceived for children. In today's context this would probably be more suitable for the general adult music lover, someone with at least a modicum of musical knowledge. I'm not sure how today's children would respond to them, especially with their dated look and relatively dry subject matter.

The concerts technically are not concerts at all but music appreciation classes, led by a brilliant maestro, full of passion for his subject and backed by a superlative orchestra. The topics covered range from the disarmingly simple like "What is a Melody?" to the simple yet profound, "What does music mean?" Does music have meaning? He covers standard music subjects like sonata form, symphonic music, concerto form and tries to define what is classical music. In all these subjects, he is never anything less than compelling. He also explores little discussed topics like the significance of intervals and the concept of modes. One drawback of the TV broadcast format is that he is limited to a mere one hour to explain each topic. By the end of the session on musical modes he is so pressed for time he can only zip through the the remainder of his notes. In the episode on Folk Music, he touches on the relationship between language and music, a theme he would pursue in far greater depth and length in his Harvard Lectures of 1973. The other aspect of the concerts is the introduction of lesser known composers to his young audience. Particularly treasurable is the episode on Mahler.
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I first stumbled across these in my local public library. I checked the first one out for my (then) 6-year-old son. I was surprised at the energy and passion Bernstein showed but was afraid the information would go right over my son's head. Imagine my surprise when he not only prompted me to pick up the next tape at the library but brought up what he had seen to his violin teacher spontainously. I would say this series is perfect for kids who enjoy non-fiction. I love music but am not very musical myself so I've learned a lot from watching them.

I just wish that today's kid's programming was more on this level.
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This 41-year-old is thrilled to own these programs. For music lovers there are some true "hidden treasures" in the set. On the program "A Toast to Vienna in 3/4 Time" there is an appearance by Walter Berry and Christa Ludwig, who sing three Mahler songs. In "Jazz in the Concert Hall" we see a young Gunther Schuller recognized by Bernstein before the complete performance of Schuller's wonderful "Journey into Jazz", a piece I had once heard performed live in Boston and was frustrated that I couldn't find it on CD.

The discs come with a booklet that lists the works performed on each show, but I am avoiding looking at the booklet so I will continue to be pleasantly surprised as I watch these discs.
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First of all, these programs are a national treasure. A five-star review is simply inadequate. Bernstein conducting Copland's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra with Copland as piano soloist. . . No price can be put on such a gift.

I respectfully disagree with another reviewer: Bernstein is not condescending, but he is sometimes tough on his audience. When he elicits answers from the audience during the lecture on Humor in Music, he becomes highly critical of their answers, as if he expected adult sophistication from the poor children who are doing the best they can.
A memorable moment occurs during the lecture "The Sound of an Orchestra" when Bernstein turns to the audience and asks, "So you think that was beautiful? Well, I have news for you. It isn't." One reviewer called Bernstein's manner at this moment condescending, but actually it was charming and highly dramatic--a real grabber.
As a general music teacher, I must agree with other reviewers that these programs should not be played for children unless the teacher is willing to devote weeks (or months) of preparation for each lecture. The following lectures are some of my favorites:

"What makes music symphonic"--Save for High School. This one is my favorite, but even smart nonmusical adults have trouble understanding it.

"The Sound of an orchestra"--Great for teaching musical style.

"What makes music American"--A passionate and thought provoking overview from one of the great American composers. (And Copland conducts as a special treat!).

"What is orchestration"--The sound quality is poor, but this one is terrific for elementary school as long as you prepare kids by talking about the instruments beforehand. Bernstein's choices of musical examples are wonderful!
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Being one of the fortunate children to attend the Bernstein concerts as a child I am surprised at other children of the same audience commenting as adults now. Why do they doubt children today as less able to understand what Bernstein was saying? What he is saying is only half of it, IT'S THE MUSIC that's speaking. I sat there and understood what was 'american music' with Aaron Copeland because the music explained more than anything anyone could say about it. Let children listen and take from it what they wil. Those young people's concerts helped form my understanding of music, art, sound. I didn't know it at the time.

Looking back I find it foolish to second guess or evaluate Bernstein as condescending or too advanced. Just watch it with your kids; maybe it will take or maybe it will take longer. These concerts are timeless and beyond bounds we try to create now. Listen to the music as Bernstein and other luminaries guide you through it. it's an extraordinary experience.
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