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Music Director Emeritus

Maestro Zubin Mehta

In October 2019, Zubin Mehta retired as Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he held for 50 years. Born in Bombay, India, in 1936, he 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, but he abandoned it at the age of eighteen to attend the Academy of Music in Vienna. Seven years later, he conducted both the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics. He rapidly became one of the world’s most sought after orchestral and operatic conductors, holding positions such as Music Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (1961-67), Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (1962-78), Music Director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (1978-91) and Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera (1998-2006). The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra appointed Zubin Mehta Music Advisor in 1969, Music Director in 1977, and Music Director for Life in 1981. Following his retirement, the IPO has named him Music Director Emeritus. 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 Chief Conductor of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Italy, becoming Honorary Conductor for Life in 2006. Zubin Mehta has won countless awards and distinctions in many countries. In Israel he has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by the Hebrew University Jerusalem, 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, he is the recipient of the 1995-6 Wolf Foundation Prize for Music and in 2012 he received the Presidential Medal of Distinction from Israeli President Shimon Peres. 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) and the Bavarian State Orchestra (2006). The Los Angeles Philharmonic has honored him with the title Conductor Emeritus and the Berlin Philharmonic made him an honorary member of the orchestra (2019). Other prizes include “Una vita nella musica – Artur Rubinstein”, the Kennedy Center Honors, the Dan David Prize, the Praemium Imperiale from the Japanese Imperial Family, a star on Hollywood Boulevard, an honorary doctorate from the Russian Academy of Art and the prestigious Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony. 2006 saw the publication in Germany and Israel of Zubin Mehta’s autobiography, Die Partitur meines Leben: Erinnerungen (The Score of my Life: Memories). 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.