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The Young People's Concerts at the New York Philharmonic are the longest-running series of family concerts in the world, having begun in 1924 under the direction of "Uncle" Ernest Schelling. Earlier Family Matinees had begun as far back as 1885 under conductor Theodore Thomas. Josef Stransky developed them further under the name Young People's Concerts beginning in 1914. They have run uninterrupted under this name since 1926. Ernest Schelling led his first Young People's Concert on March 27, 1924. By combining musical performances of the Philharmonic with lectures, Schelling set the stage for the program. During that time period, the show went on the road multiple times, travelling to Philadelphiamarker, Londonmarker, Rotterdammarker, and Los Angelesmarker.

Leonard Bernstein brought the Young People's Concerts to a new level of attention when he arrived as conductor of the New York Philharmonic in 1958. Crucially, the first performance with him as music director, on January 18, 1958 at Carnegie Hallmarker, New Yorkmarker, was the first of these concerts to be televised. Beginning in 1962, the Young People's Concerts became the first series of concerts ever televised from Lincoln Centermarker. Bernstein conducted a total of 53 such performances, all of which were telecast on CBS and syndicated in over 40 countries. Although Bernstein left as music director in 1969, he continued to lead the Young People's Concerts as Conductor Emeritus until 1971. Bernstein's performances inspired generations of musicians and music-lovers, and twenty-five of them are now available on DVD. However, the airing of the program was halted in March of 1972, with a final Young People's Concert concentrating on Gustav Holst's The Planets.

Each season, several different conductors led the Young People's Concerts. Michael Tilson Thomas became a regular during the 1970s, but other conductors included figures like Erich Leinsdorf, Pierre Boulez, Igor Buketoff, Zubin Mehta, Aaron Copland, and later Kurt Masur, Leonard Slatkin, and André Previn.

Currently, the New York Philharmonic presents four Young People's Concerts each season, in addition to concerts on tour, most recently in Hong Kong on February 17, 2008. In New York, Delta David Gier is conductor and host - the first person to lead all such concerts in a season since 1952. Each season is themed as a unit - for instance the four Ages of Music - and the live performance is complemented by live images projected on a large screen, in addition to actors, dancers, and singers who help bring themes to life. Noted playwright Tom Dulack scripts the concerts. Each concert is preceded by Kidzone Live, an interactive music fair engaging over 1000 children in the themes of the concert with hands-on activities on all four level of the lobby of Avery Fisher Hallmarker.

In 2005, the New York Philharmonic initiated a sister series called Very Young People's Concerts, performed by an ensemble of eight to ten musicians of the Philharmonic at Merkin Concert Hall. Children arrive for musical games played with individual musicians, then sit down for a 30-minute concert featuring a story set to a major piece of music, like one of The Four Seasons of Vivaldi, or a portion of Maurice Ravel's String Quartet in F. Children try small string instruments before they leave. The Very Young People's Concerts also sell out on subscription.

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