b. Bombay, April 29, 1936
Zubin Mehta made his American debut on July 26, 1960 in Lewisohn Stadium, conducting an orchestra made up largely of New York Philharmonic players in a concert of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5, Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel, and arias sung by Risë Stevens. He became the Philharmonic's Music Director in 1978. Zubin Mehta’s 13-year tenure as the New York Philharmonic’s Music Director — during which he conducted more than 1,000 concerts — was the longest in the Orchestra’s history. In May 1991, Mehta concluded his tenure in New York with three performances celebrating the 100th anniversary of Carnegie Hall and a series of performances of Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder in Avery Fisher Hall. He was also made an Honorary Member of the Philharmonic, an homage formerly bestowed on Wagner, Liszt, Dvorák, Copland, and Bernstein, among others.
Throughout his career, Mehta has displayed a strong commitment to contemporary music. During his tenure as Music Director, 52 pieces were presented for the first time, 30 of them conducted by Mehta himself, including compositions by Reich, Schuman, Menotti, Druckman, Zwilich, Corigliano, and Del Tredici. Individual members of the Orchestra also achieved a new prominence during the Mehta years; over 30 made their solo debuts, many in works commissioned specially for them. Mehta also introduced the New York Philharmonic Ensembles, the long-running series programmed by and featuring musicians from the Orchestra.
Mehta's recordings with the Orchestra range from Verdi's Requiem and John Knowles Paine's Symphony No. 2 to the 1978 film score of Woody Allen's film Manhattan. The Orchestra's worldwide outreach flourished with four tours to Europe, including the 1988 tour of the Soviet Union; two to Asia, four to Latin America; and six within the United States and Canada.