Born in Bombay, India, Zubin Mehta grew up in a musical environment. His father, Mehli Mehta, founded the Bombay Symphony and was Music Director of the American Youth Symphony in Los Angeles.
Despite this musical influence, his initial field of study was in medicine. At the age of eighteen, he abandoned his medical career to attend the Academy of Music in Vienna. Seven years later, he conducted both the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics. He has rapidly become one of the world's most sought after orchestral and operatic conductors.
From 1961 to 1967 he was 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 Mr. 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 thousands of performances on five continents with the IPO. Since 1985, he has also acted as Music Advisor and Chief Conductor of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the summer festival in Florence, Italy. September 1998 marked his five year appointment as Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.
In 1978, Maestro Mehta became the Music Director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. During his thirteen years in New York, he conducted over 1,000 concerts, thus holding the position longer than any Music Director in the Orchestra's modern history.
Zubin Mehta has won countless awards and distinctions in many countries. In Israel he has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by the Hebrew University Jerusalem, the Tel-Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute, and the Hebrew University has named a wing of the Musicology Department after him and his late father, conductor Mehli Mehta. In 1991, he was awarded a special prize at the ceremony of the Israel Prize presentation, and he is the recipient of the 1995-6 Wolf Foundation Prize for Music.
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 upon him by the following orchestras: Vienna Philharmonic (2001), Munich Philharmonic (2004), Los Angeles Philharmonic (2006), Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (2006) and the Bavarian State Orchestra (2006). In 2008 he was honoured by the Japanese Imperial Family with the Praemium Imperiale. In September 2006, he was presented with the prize "Una vita nella musica - Artur Rubinstein" at Teatro La Fenice in Venice, in December 2006 he received the Kennedy Center Honors and in March 2007 he was presented with the Dan David Prize.
2006 also saw the publication in Germany and Israel of Zubin Mehta's autobiography, Die Partitur meines Leben: Erinnerungen (The Score of my Life: Memories).
In 2011 Maestro Mehta received a special distinction, in getting a star on the Hollywood Boulevard. 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.