SAN FRANCISCO

San Francisco Symphony Celebrates Its 100th Birthday (VIDEOS)

12/08/2011 12:13 pm 12:13:17 | Updated Dec 08, 2011

Back in September, we were thrilled to bring you the lavish gowns and star-studded red carpet as the San Francisco Symphony marked the opening of its hundredth season.

And now, the city's beloved musical institution has something more to celebrate: Its actual birthday.

San Francisco Symphony conductor Henry Hadley picked up his baton to lead the first-ever performance at 3:15pm on December 8, 1911 in the city's Cort Theatre. A packed house of 1,400 fans watched a concert that featured Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Liszt, marking a cultural resurgence that helped restore San Francisco's reputation as one of the world's premiere artistic destinations following the 1906 earthquake.

This year, the symphony's doing plenty to celebrate. An NBC-curated documentary on the organization's centennial will be broadcast throughout the Bay Area this month, and a 12-part podcast series on its history and early recordings launched earlier this week. The commemorative book Music For A City, Music For The World was released in September. An exhibition of the same name opened its doors at the San Francisco Public Library that same month and runs until January.

Of course, it wouldn't be a birthday without a little serenading, so the symphony arranged that, too. Take a look at footage below of both elementary school children and a handful of classical music stars paying homage to one of San Francisco's most celebrated establishments. When you're done, be sure to click over to our exclusive interview with the legendary conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.

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