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Zubin Mehta

Conductor Emeritus

About this Artist

Zubin Mehta was born in 1936 in Bombay and received his first musical education under the guidance of his father Mehli Mehta, a noted concert violinist and the founder of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra. After a short period of pre-medical studies in Bombay, in 1954 Zubin left for Vienna, where he eventually entered the conducting program under Hans Swarowsky at the Akademie für Musik. Zubin Mehta won the Liverpool International Conducting Competition in 1958 and was also a prize winner of the summer academy at Tanglewood. By 1961, he had already conducted the Vienna, Berlin, and Israel Philharmonic Orchestras and has recently celebrated 50 years of musical collaboration with all three ensembles.

Zubin Mehta was Music Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra from 1961 to 1967 and also assumed the Music Directorship of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1962, a post he retained until 1978 and was honored as the LA Phil’s Conductor Emeritus in 2019. In October 2019, he celebrated his farewell with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which he served for 50 years. On this occasion, he was named Music Director Emeritus of the IPO.       

In 1978, he took over the post of Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, commencing a tenure lasting 13 years, the longest in the orchestra’s history. From 1985 to 2017, he was chief conductor of the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence.

Zubin Mehta made his debut as an opera conductor with Tosca in Montreal in 1963. Since then, he has conducted at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Scala in Milan, and the opera houses of Chicago and Florence, as well as at the Salzburg Festival. Between 1998 and 2006, he was Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. In October 2006, he opened the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, where he was the President of the annual Festival del Mediterrani.

Zubin Mehta’s list of awards and honors includes the “Nikisch-Ring,” bequeathed to him by Karl Böhm. He is an honorary citizen of both Florence and Tel Aviv and was made an honorary member of the Vienna State Opera, of the Bavarian State Opera, and of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Wien. The title of Honorary Conductor was bestowed to him by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (2001), Munich Philharmonic Orchestra (2004), Los Angeles Philharmonic (2006), Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (2006), Staatskapelle Berlin (2014), Bavarian State Orchestra (2006), and Berlin Philharmonic (2019). In 2016, the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples appointed  Mehta as its Honorary Music Director, and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra honored him in 2019 as its Conductor Emeritus.

In 2008, Zubin Mehta was honored by the Japanese Imperial Family with the “Praemium Imperiale.” In 2011, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was bestowed the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2012. The Indian Government honored him in 2013 with the “Tagore Award for cultural harmony.”

Zubin Mehta continues to support the discovery and furtherance of musical talents all over the world. Together with his brother Zarin, he is a co-chairman of the Mehli Mehta Music Foundation in Bombay, where more than 200 children are educated in classical music. The Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel Aviv develops young talent in Israel and is closely associated with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, as is a new project of teaching young Arab Israelis in the cities of Shwaram and Nazareth involving local teachers and members of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.