Plus: How Venezuelan-born Gustavo Dudamel inspired the main character in Mozart In the Jungle

By Mariah Haas
December 30, 2016 11:00 AM
Mathew Imaging/WireImage

When Gustavo Dudamel takes the stage at the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day concert this weekend, he will be the youngest music conductor ever to lead the famed event.

The annual New Year’s Concert, which will be hosted by Oscar-winner Julie Andrews, features melodies from the Strauss Family and their contemporaries — and broadcasts live to over 90 countries.

“You don’t just have to know a lot about music — you have to know a lot about psychology and philosophy,” Dudamel recently told PEOPLE. “Conducting is being a leader. A hundred people trust that you can guide them.”

Along with conducting the highly anticipated concert, Dudamel, 35, is also the music director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as the inspiration behind the main character in the hit Amazon series, Mozart in the Jungle.

“When I was 8, I went to a concert with my father and was inspired by the person in front moving their hands, so I asked my grandmother to give me a baton for my birthday,” the Venezuelan-born conductor told PEOPLE about how at a young age, he discovered what his career would be.

He added: “I started playing conductor at home in front of my toys!”

From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2017 airs on PBS’ Great Performances this Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET with an encore performance that evening at 7:30 p.m. (Check local listings.)

  • Reporting by MARLENE LENTHANG