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

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. In October 2019, he celebrated his farewell with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which he had 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 that would last 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.

Mehta’s list of awards and honors is extensive and 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 in 1997, of the Bavarian State Opera in 2006, and of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Wien in 2007. The title of Honorary Conductor was bestowed on him by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (2001), Munich Philharmonic Orchestra (2004), Los Angeles Philharmonic (2006), Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (2006), Staatskapelle Berlin (2014), and Bavarian State Orchestra (2006)—with which Mehta performed in Srinagar, Kashmir, in September 2013. In 2016, the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples appointed him Honorary Music Director, and in 2019 the Israel Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic named him Conductor Emeritus. In February 2019, the Berlin Philharmonic named him their Honorary Conductor. A particular honor was bestowed on him in 2022, when the new concert hall of the Teatro del Maggio Musicale in Florence was named after him.

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 Western 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 Shfaram and Nazareth with local teachers and members of the IPO.