ZUBIN MEHTA

Born in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), India, Zubin Mehta grew up in a musical environment. His father, Mehli Mehta, founded the Bombay Symphony and is currently Music Director of the American Youth Symphony in Los Angeles. Despite this musical influence, Zubin Mehta's initial field of study was medicine. At the age of eighteen, Zubin abandoned his medical studies in order to attend the Academy of Music in Vienna. Seven years later, he conducted both the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics. From 1961 to 1967 he served as Music Director of the Montreal Symphony. He was appointed Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1962, a post he retained until 1978.

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra appointed Mo. Mehta Music Advisor in 1969; Music Director in 1977, and Music Director for Life in 1981. Combining concerts, recordings and tours, Zubin Mehta has conducted over 1,600 performances on five continents with this extraordinary orchestra. Since 1985, he has also acted as Chief Conductor of the Florence Opera House/Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.

1978 marked the year Mo. Mehta was named Music Director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. During his thirteen years in New York, Zubin Mehta conducted over 1,000 concerts, thus holding the position longer than any Music Director in the Orchestra's modern history. One of the many highlights for the Maestro took place in 1988, when the orchestra embarked on a ten-day tour of the Soviet Union culminating in a historic joint-concert, with the State Symphony Orchestra of the Soviet Ministry of Culture, in Moscow's Gorky Park. In May of 1991, Mo. Mehta concluded his tenure in New York with three performances celebrating the 100th anniversary of Carnegie Hall, followed by a series of performances of Schoenberg's "Gurrelieder". Twice in 1992 Zubin Mehta returned to guest conduct the New York Philharmonic: First for the world premiere of Olivier Messiaen's last orchestral work "Eclairs sur l'Eau Dela", and later "A Philharmonic Celebration: 150th Anniversary Concert".

In June of 1994 Mo. Mehta and members of the Sarajevo Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performed Mozart's Requiem amid the ruins of Sarajevo's National Library. It was broadcast to twenty-six countries worldwide with the aim of raising money for the UN Refugee Fund. Mo. Mehta also conducted the now legendary "Three Tenors Concerts" in Rome and Los Angeles.

Zubin Mehta realized a long-held ambition in November of 1994, when he brought the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to his birthplace, India. By conducting in Bombay and New Delhi, he helped bridge a political gap that had prevented them from performing there for three decades. His affection for an orchestra so close to his heart, combined with love of his native country, made this tour one of the most memorable events of his life.

In March 1996 he completed a four-year commitment to conduct Wagner's Ring Cycle with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. April 29th of that year marked Zubin Mehta's 60th birthday. Celebrations included a coast-to-coast United States tour with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The grand finale concert took place in Los Angeles on his birthday. Both the Los Angeles and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestras performed together. Special guests were Pinchas Zuckerman, Itzhak Perlman and Daniel Barenboim.

Mr. Mehta continues to tour extensively with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Florence Opera, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. He has often collaborated with the latter on January 1 for the annual Strauss Family New Year's Concert - as he did again on January 1, 1998.

Over the years, Maestro Mehta has been awarded numerous honors. Among them are the Nikisch Ring-the Vienna Philharmonic Ring of Honor-and Padma Bhushan (Order of the Lotus) - India's highest cultural award; with the Orchestra and Chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino he won the Abbiati Award - the Italian Critics' Prize - for his interpretation of Moses und Aaron by Schoenberg. He is Honorary Citizen of Tel Aviv and the only non-Israeli ever to receive the Israel Prize, and Honorary Citizen of Florence, too. In 1996 he was awarded the Wolf Foundation Prize; 1997 Mr. Mehta was made honorary member of the Vienna State Opera.

In 1998 the Maestro began a five-year appointment as Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.


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