Zubin Mehta

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Picture by Mary Frampton. Conductor Zubin Mehta reviewing scores with musician Frank Zappa. UCLA, May 8, 1970

Zubin Mehta (born April 29, 1936) is an Indian-born American conductor (from Bombay, now Mumbai).

His father Mehli Mehta was a violinist and founding conductor of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra. Zubin initially intended to study medicine, but eventually became a music student in Vienna at the age of 18, under the eminent instructor Hans Swarowsky. In 1958, he 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 Orchestra.

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. Other appointments followed: Musical Director the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (1962—1978); the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (1978—1991), becoming the longest holder of the latter post. He has conducted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra since 1970 and was made its Music Director for Life in 1981. Additionally since 1998, he has been Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.

Zubin Mehta is especially famous for his interpretations of large scale neo-romantic symphonic music of composers like Anton Bruckner, Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler. His conducting is also renowned as being flamboyant and forceful in performance.

FZ about an event that occured during the Contempo '70 Festival:

"Sometime in 1970, I had an offer for a major concert performance of the orchestral music accumulating in my closet. During the M.O.I.'s first five years, I had carried with me, on the road, masses of manuscript paper, and, whenever there was an opportunity, scribbled stuff on it. This material eventually became the score for 200 Motels (based on an estimate of the number of gigs we played in the first five years—forty jobs per year?). The performance was to be held at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion (a basketball arena seating about fourteen thousand people), with Zubin Mehta conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. A pretty big deal."


Zubin Mehta is also mentioned in "Them Or Us (The Book)" (1984) and in Billy The Mountain on Just Another Band From L.A. (1972). LIBRA [19-22 / 45º-60º], one of the constellations in the OSFA Universe! - the cover art of the "One Size Fits All" (1975) album -, has a star named "Zubin Mehta".