About Zubin Mehta
Zubin Mehta (born 29 April 1936) is an Indian conductor of western classical music.
Zubin Mehta was born into a Parsi family in Mumbai, India, the son of Mehli and Tehmina Mehta. His father Mehli Mehta was a violinist and founding conductor of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra. Mehta is an alumnus of St. Mary's School, Mumbai, and St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. Mehta initially intended to study medicine, but eventually became a music student in Vienna at the age of 18, under Hans Swarowsky. Also at the same academy along with Mehta were conductor Claudio Abbado and conductor–pianist Daniel Barenboim. Mehta's first marriage was to Canadian soprano Carmen Lasky in 1958. They have a son, Mervon and a daughter, Zarina. In 1964, they divorced. Two years after the divorce, Carmen married Zubin's brother, Zarin Mehta, now the Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic. In July 1969, Mehta married Nancy Kovack, a former American film and television actress. Mehta is a permanent resident of the United States, but retains his Indian citizenship.
In 1958, Mehta made his conducting debut in Vienna. The same year he won the International Conducting Competition in Liverpool and was appointed assistant conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Mehta soon rose to the rank of chief conductor when he was made Music Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in 1960, a post he held until 1967. In 1961, he was named assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; however, the orchestra's music director designate, Georg Solti, was not consulted on the appointment, and Solti subsequently resigned in protest; soon after, Mehta himself was named Music Director of the orchestra, and held the post from 1962 to 1978.
In 1978 Mehta became the Music Director and Principal Conductor of the New York Philharmonic and remained there until his resignation in 1991, becoming the longest holder of the post.
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) appointed Mehta its Music Advisor in 1969, Music Director in 1977, and made him its Music Director for Life in 1981.
Since 1985, Mehta has been chief conductor of the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence. Additionally, from 1998 until 2006, Mehta was Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. The Munich Philharmonic Orchestra named him its Honorary Conductor. Since 2005, Mehta has been the main conductor (together with Lorin Maazel) of the new opera house of the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències in Valencia.
Mehta conducted the Vienna New Year's Concert in the years 1990, 1995, 1998 and 2007. He has also made a recording of Indian instrumentalist, Ravi Shankar's Sitar Concerto No. 2, with Shankar and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 1990, he conducted the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Orchestra del Teatro dell'Opera di Roma in the first ever Three Tenors concert in Rome, joining the tenors again in 1994 at the Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles. In between those appearances he conducted the historic 1992 production of Tosca in which each act took place in the actual setting and at the actual time specified in the score. This production starred Catherine Malfitano in the title role, Plácido Domingo as Cavaradossi and Ruggero Raimondi as Baron Scarpia. Act I was telecast live from Rome's basilica of Sant'Andrea della Valle on Saturday, July 11, at noon (Central European Daylight Savings Time); act II was telecast later that evening from the Palazzo Farnese at 9:40 p.m.; act III was telecast live on Sunday, July 12, at 7:00 a.m. from the Castel Sant'Angelo, also known as Hadrian's Tomb.
In June 1994, Mehta performed the Mozart Requiem, along with the members of the Sarajevo Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at the ruins of Sarajevo's National Library, in a fund raising concert for the victims of armed conflict and remembrance of the thousands of people killed in the Yugoslav wars. On 29 August 1999, he conducted Mahler Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection), at the vicinity of Buchenwald concentration camp in the German city of Weimar, with both the Bavarian State Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, sitting alongside each other. He toured his native country India and home city Mumbai (Bombay) in 1984, with the New York Philharmonic, and again in November–December 1994, with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, along with soloists Itzhak Perlman and Gil Shaham. In 1997 and 1998, Mehta worked in collaboration with Chinese film director Zhang Yimou on a production of the opera Turandot by Giacomo Puccini which they took to Florence, Italy, and then to Beijing, China, where it was staged, in its actual surroundings, in the Forbidden City with over 300 extras and 300 soldiers. for nine historic performances. The making of this production was chronicled in a documentary called The Turandot Project which Mehta narrated.
In 2005 Mehta appeared with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. On 26 December 2005, the first anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, Mehta and the Bavarian State Orchestra performed for the first time in Chennai (formerly called Madras) at the Madras Music Academy. This Tsunami memorial concert was organised by the Madras German consulate along with the Max-Mueller Bhavan/Goethe-Institut. The team performed to a packed hall of select invitees. Nearly 3000 people turned up including Amartya Sen (Nobel Laureate in economics) and the Tamil Nadu governor, Surjit Singh Barnala. He also performed in Delhi on 28 December at the Indira Gandhi Stadium. 2006 was his last year with the Bavarian State Orchestra.
Zubin Mehta received praise early in his career for dynamic interpretations of the large scale symphonic music of Anton Bruckner, Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler and Franz Schmidt. His conducting is renowned as being flamboyant, vigorous and forceful.
Honors and awards
In 1971, Zubin Mehta's name is mentioned on the song 'Billy the Mountain" on the album "Just Another Band from LA" by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.
At the Israel Prize ceremony in 1991, Mehta was awarded a special prize in recognition of his unique devotion to Israel and to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 1995, Laureate of the Wolf Prize in Arts.
In 1999, Zubin Mehta was presented the "Lifetime Achievement Peace and Tolerance Award" of the United Nations.
The Government of India honoured Mehta in 1966 with the Padma Bhushan and in 2001 with India's second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan.
In September 2006 the Kennedy Center announced Mehta as one of the recipients of that year's Kennedy Center Honors, presented on 2 December 2006.
On 3 February 2007, Mehta was the recipient of the Second Annual Bridgebuilder Award at Loyola Marymount University. In 2007 he received the prestigious Dan David Prize.
Conductor Karl Böhm awarded Mehta the Nikisch Ring – the Vienna Philharmonic Ring of Honor.
Mehta is an honorary citizen of Florence and Tel Aviv. He was made an honorary member of the Vienna State Opera in 1997. In 2001 he was bestowed the title of “Honorary Conductor” of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and in 2004 the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra awarded him the same title, as did the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in 2006. At the end of his tenure with the Bavarian State Opera he was named Honorary Conductor of the Bavarian State Orchestra and Honorary Member of the Bavarian State Opera, and the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Wien appointed him honorary member in November 2007.
Mehta's life has been documented in Terry Sanders' film Portrait of Zubin Mehta. A documentary film about Zubin Mehta, Zubin and I, was produced by the grandson of an Israeli harpist who played with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra before Mehta assumed the helm. The filmmaker joins the orchestra on a tour of Mumbai and meets with him for two interviews, in India and Tel Aviv.
In 2009, Mehta established Mifneh (Hebrew for "Change"), a music education program for Israeli Arabs, in cooperation with Bank Leumi and the Arab-Israel Bank. Three schools, in Shfaram, the Jezreel Valley and Nazareth, are taking part in the pilot project.
Zubin Mehta's Timeline
April 29, 1936
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Los Angeles, United States
Tel Aviv, Israel
New York Philharmonic