Zubin Mehta

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Zubin Mehta
Zubin Mehta 1.jpg
Zubin Mehta in 2007
Born (1936-04-29) 29 April 1936 (age 77)
Bombay (now Mumbai), British Raj (now India)
Occupation Musical conductor
Years active 1958–present
Spouse(s) Carmen Lasky, 1958–1964, divorced
Nancy Kovack, 1969–present
Children Mervon Mehta and Zarina Mehta, with Lasky
Relatives Zarin Mehta (brother)
Website
http://www.zubinmehta.net

Zubin Mehta (ज़ूबिन मेहता, pronounced [ˈzuːbɪn ˈmeːɦt̪aː]; born 29 April 1936) is an Indian Parsi conductor of Western classical music. He is the Music Director for Life of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Main Conductor for Valencia's opera house. Zubin Mehta is also the chief conductor of Florence, Italy's Maggio Musicale festival.

Background[edit]

Mehta was born into a Parsi family in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, the son of Mehli and Tehmina Mehta. His father 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. While in school, Mehta was taught to play the piano by Joseph de Lima, who was his first piano teacher. 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.[1] Two years after the divorce, Carmen married Mehta's brother, Zarin Mehta, formerly the Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic. In July 1969, Mehta married Nancy Kovack, a former American film and television actress.[2] Mehta, a permanent resident of the United States, retains his Indian citizenship.

Conducting career[edit]

With Isaac Stern at Lincoln Center, 1980

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. 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 subsequently resigned in protest;[3] 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.[4]

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 named him its Honorary Conductor. Since 2005, Mehta has been the main conductor (together with Lorin Maazel) of the Palau de les Arts, the new opera house of the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències in Valencia, Spain.

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.

1990s[edit]

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, 11 July, 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, 12 July, at 7:00 am from the Castel Sant'Angelo, also known as Hadrian's Tomb.

Mehta conducting the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Mumbai, October 2008

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.

2000s[edit]

Zubin Mehta, 2010

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. 2006 was his last year with the Bavarian State Orchestra. In 2011, Mehta's performance with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at The Proms in London was picketed and interrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters.[5]

On 7 September 2013, Zubin Mehta appeared with Bavarian State Orchestra at a Special concert named Ehsaas e Kashmir organized by German Embassy in India, at historic Mughal Gardens, Srinagar. Both Mehta and Orchestra reportedly renounced their usual fees for this concert.[6]

Performance style[edit]

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[edit]

Mehta at a ceremony to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in March 2011

Mehta's name is mentioned in the song "Billy the Mountain" on the 1972 album Just Another Band from L.A. 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, 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.[7]

In 2005, he was voted the 117th-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.[8]

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.

Then U.S. President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush stand with the Kennedy Center honourees in the Blue Room of the White House during a reception Sunday, 3 December 2006. From left, they are: singer and songwriter William "Smokey" Robinson; Andrew Lloyd Webber; country singer Dolly Parton; film director Steven Spielberg; and Zubin Mehta.

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 and in 2004 the Munich Philharmonic 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.

In October 2008, Mehta received the Praemium Imperiale (World Culture Prize in Memory of His Imperial Highness Prince Takamatsu), Japan.

On 1 March 2011, Mehta received the 2,434th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. On 2 October 2011 he received the Echo Klassik in Berlin, for his life's work.[9]

On 6 September 2013, President of India Pranab Mukherjee awarded him the Tagore Award 2013 for his outstanding contribution towards cultural harmony.[10]


Films[edit]

Mehta's life has been documented in Terry Sanders' film Portrait of Zubin Mehta. A documentary film about 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.[11]

In Christopher Nupen's 1969 documentary The Trout about a performance of Schubert's Trout Quintet in London by Jacqueline du Pré, Daniel Barenboim, Pinchas Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman, Mehta plays the double bass.[12]

Educational projects[edit]

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.[13]

He and his brother Zarin constitute the Advisor Council of the Mehli Mehta Foundation.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gypsy Boy, Time
  2. ^ Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Music and Musicians
  3. ^ "Buffie & the Baton". Time. 14 April 1961. Retrieved 8 November 2007. 
  4. ^ His life's work: Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic
  5. ^ FONSECA-WOLLHEIM, Corinna "Political Views Test the Harmony", New York Times", March 19, 2014
  6. ^ "Zubin Mehta's Kashmir Concert begins in Srinagar amid Protests". Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology). Retrieved 16 May 2009. 
  8. ^ גיא בניוביץ' (20 June 1995). "הישראלי מספר 1: יצחק רבין – תרבות ובידור". Ynet. Retrieved 10 July 2011. 
  9. ^ "Zubin Metha erhält Echo Klassik-Preis". In: Saarbrücker Zeitung, 5 August 2011, p. B4
  10. ^ "Zubin Mehta awarded with Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony 2013". Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  11. ^ The redhead and the maestro
  12. ^ "Zubin Mehta" by John Allison, Opera
  13. ^ A baton that unites bankers and music lovers
  14. ^ "Advisory Council, Trustees & committees". Mehli Mehta Foundation. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 

Sources[edit]

  • Martin Bookspan and Ross Yockey, Zubin: The Zubin Mehta Story
  • Renate von Matuschka, Die Partitur meines Lebens.

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Jean Martinon (Music Advisor)
Music Director, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
1977–present (Music Advisor 1968–1977, now Music Director for Life)
Succeeded by
incumbent