Born in 1936 in Bombay, Zubin Mehta received his first musical education under the guidance of his father, violinist and Bombay Symphony Orchestra founder Mehli Mehta. After pre-medical studies in Bombay, in 1954 he entered Vienna’s Akademie für Musik conducting program under Hans Swarowsky. He won the Liverpool International Conducting Competition in 1958 and was a prize-winner at Tanglewood’s summer academy. By 1961 he had already conducted the Vienna, Berlin, and Israel philharmonic orchestras; he has recently celebrated 50 years of musical collaboration with all three ensembles. Zubin Mehta’s 13-year tenure as New York Philharmonic Music Director, from 1978 to 1991, was the longest in the Orchestra’s history. In 1969 he was appointed music adviser to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, made music director in 1977, and named music director for life in 1981; he has conducted more than 3,000 concerts with this extraordinary ensemble, including tours spanning five continents. He will end his tenure with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in October 2019, 50 years after his debut. Other past posts included serving as music director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (1961–67) and Los Angeles Philharmonic 1962–78). He has been principal conductor of the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence (1985–2017). Zubin Mehta has led opera productions at the world’s leading houses, including The Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, the opera houses of Chicago and Florence, the salsburg festival, and The Royal Opera, Covent Garden. His honors include the Nikisch-Ring bequeathed to him by Karl Böhm, and being named an honorary citizen of Florence and Tel Aviv and honorary member of the Vienna Staatsoper, Bavarian Staatsoper, and Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Wien; honorary conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Berlin Staatskapelle, and Bavarian State Orchestra; and honorary music director of Teatro di San Carlo in Naples. He has received the Praemium Imperiale from the Japanese Imperial Family, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and India’s Tagore Award for cultural harmony. With his brother Zarin, Zubin Mehta is a co-chairman of Bombay’s Mehli Mehta Music Foundation, where more than 200 children are educated in western classical music. Tel Aviv’s Buchmann-Mehta School of Music develops young talent in Israel and is closely related to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, as is a new project of teaching young Arab Israelis in Shwaram and Nazareth by local teachers and Israel Philharmonic Orchestra members.
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