Present: Contemporary Music
Zubin Mehta, one of the world’s leading conductors, is a vivid symbol of today’s cross-cultural world and living proof of the power of music to break down social and political barriers.
His tremendous sense of social responsibility has taken his music from India to Buchenwald and from Sarajevo to the Palestinian territories. He has sought to develop the universal appeal of music and through it to bring peace and comfort to all areas of the world.
His contribution to today’s music is so valuable that it can be said that he is one of the key “designers” of the current musical landscape. Not only was he the musical director of some of the world’s leading orchestras/opera houses across three continents (New York, Los Angeles, Montreal, Munich, Florence, Israel) but he has likely given more opportunities to young emerging artists (soloists, conductors, composers) in debut performances than any other figure of his stature.
Mehta was born into a Parsee family in Bombay, India, in April 1936. His father was Mehli Mehta, a violinist who founded the Bombay Symphony Orchestra, and his mother was Tehmina Mehta.
At the age of 18, Zubin Mehta moved to Vienna to study conducting with the eminent teacher Hans Swarovsky. At 22, four years after his arrival in Vienna, Mehta made his conducting debut. That same year, he won the International Conducting Competition in Liverpool and the Koussevitsky competition in Tanglewood shortly thereafter. Zubin’s early success resulted in his appointment as assistant conductor and subsequently Music Director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. While still in his twenties, he already conducted the Vienna Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic – two of the greatest orchestras in the world.
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra appointed Mr. Mehta Music Advisor in 1969, Music Director in 1977, and Music Director for Life in 1981. In 1986, he has also assumed the role of Music Advisor and Chief Conductor of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the summer festival in Florence, Italy
The 2007 Dan David Prize honors Zubin Mehta in the field of Contemporary Music, for his significant contributions in this field.