This nine-DVD set is a fascinating, even dazzling body of work from several points of view. From 1958 until 1970, Leonard Bernstein hosted this series of broadcasts on the CBS network, which went out in prime-time. On their most superficial level, the Young People's Concerts were devoted to classical music and aimed at younger viewers, but in reality, these hour-long shows were all about how to think about music of any kind. Bernstein proved a charismatic teacher, lively, funny, engaging and engaged with his audience, and even though he was ostensibly addressing children and young teenagers, he never seemed to be talking down to anyone in his manner or language. The resulting telecasts, initially from the New York Philharmonic's wonderful old home at Carnegie Hall, and from late 1962 onward in their new digs at Lincoln Center (in what was then known as Philharmonic Hall), were the equivalent of an entire semester's course in music appreciation with big dollops of philosophy, art appreciation, and literature thrown in for good measure. What's more, they're every bit as useful and enjoyable in the new century as they were halfway through the old one -- those who were there can now savor what special times those were, for music and for New York City and the United States, and the Philharmonic, when it had this charismatic leader who made the orchestra and its work and mission a part of ordinary people's lives across the country; could one possibly imagine Bernstein's successors Pierre Boulez, Kurt Masur, or Lorin Maazel ever devoting themselves to this kind of effort, or any of the three networks, or even PBS, devoting their most valuable airtime to programming such as this? Thanks to Bernstein's approach, which embraced topical subjects and reference points amid his discussion of classical music, the shows themselves capture the changes that took place in society and popular culture across a dozen years. In the first broadcast, What Is Music, captured in black-and-white, he introduces himself, the orchestra, and the lecture by conducting a briskly-paced excerpt from Rossini's William Tell Overture, which, even more in 1958 than it would today, most of his young audience associates with The Lone Ranger -- he also peppers his discussion with references to Sputnik and rockets, and even a mention of Superman, which was then still on the air as a new program; by 1965, he refers to the Supremes in the midst of a lecture on the mis-use of vibrato in a performance (and later to comic strips and "pop art"); and by the spring of 1969, he is describing Hector Berlioz's Symphony Fantastique as "the first psychedelic symphony," on a broadcast entitled Berlioz Takes A Trip. And he is not pandering to contemporary sensibilities when he presents this -- he is speaking in deadly earnest, and quite correct. By then, the shows had gone from black-and-white kinescope to black-and-white videotape to full color. The programs usually opened with the orchestra playing a short musical excerpt that was relevant to the discussion that would follow, with Bernstein leading the orchestra (all men and all white in those days -- how times were different -- although by the late 1960's one can spot a female harpist), and then addressing the audience at hand and at home about his topic. Through it all, Bernstein was uniquely outgoing and engaged with his audience and, no matter how serious or dry the subject might seem, brings a keen sense of humor -- getting the middle trumpet section of Gershwin's "An American In Paris" played in the manner of Brahms, or the fiddle melody in Copland's "Rodeo" played in the manner of Bach, are pretty funny moments in live television history. It's amazing also to see some of the examples of music called up by the conductor provided by renowned first-chair players such as Julius Baker, Harold Gomberg Robert Brennan, Stanley Drucker, Eldon Bailey, and John Corigliano, Sr., and the guests were an impressive array of talent as well, including Christa Ludwig, Walter Berry, Aaron Copland, Marni Nixon, Natania Davrath, Fran Warren, and Larry Austin. Bernstein gained in confidence in tandem with the network as he went along, so that in 1960, on the occasion of composer/conductor Gustav Mahler's centennial, he was able to do a show with the title Who Was Gustav Mahler? at a time when few of the parents of the intended audience would have known Mahler's profession, much less who he was -- could anyone imagine even PBS doing a prime-time show on Gustav Mahler in 2005 without a ton of corporate support? Although the Philharmonic is used throughout as Bernstein's instrument, to present exhibits from and augment his lecture, the broadcasts mostly end with a complete performance of a final movement from a well known piece, as a concession to dramatic pacing and audience expectations. Of course, it helped in bringing all of this work to the public that the New York Philharmonic and Bernstein were signed to Columbia Masterworks, the record division of the CBS Network, which -- at the time of Bernstein's appointment as Music Director in 1958 -- saw in the young conductor a chance to offer a successor to rival NBC's longtime broadcasts with Toscanini (which had ended with his retirement in 1954), with a fresh appeal far beyond the ranks of serious music afficianados, to younger viewers, parents of younger children, etc. The end result is something for the ages and then some -- a compendium of great music and music-making, an overview of music (and not just classical music), American popular culture, society, and mass media, all seen through a compound prism of performance and philosophy. Anyone who is new to classical music, or who just wants to learn a bit about how to think clearly about music, could take a year of music appreciation courses and not get as much as this series offered; and this reviewer never missed Bernstein, who passed away in 1990, more than he did on finishing watching these shows upon their reissue in 2004.