Born in Bombay, 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. Mr. Mehta attended the Academy of Music in Vienna and seven years later had already conducted both the Vienna and Berlin philharmonics. He was music director of the Montreal Symphony from 1961 to 1967, Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1962 to 1978, and the New York Philharmonic from 1978 to 1991, the longest music director tenure in that orchestra's history. In 1969 he was appointed music adviser to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and was made music director in 1977; in 1981 he was awarded the title of Music Director for Life. Since 1985, he has been Chief Conductor of the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Between 1998 and 2006 he was music director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. Mr. Mehta first appeared under San Francisco Symphony auspices in 1968 as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; since then he has led the New York Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in performances at Davies Symphony Hall. He most recently appeared with the IPO under SFS auspices in 2015.
Mr. Mehta has been awarded honorary doctorates from the Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, and the Weizmann Institute in Israel. In 1991, he was awarded the Israel Prize and he was the recipient of the 1995-96 Wolf Foundation Prize for Music. He is honorary citizen of Florence and Tel Aviv and an honorary member of the Vienna State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, and the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Vienna. Mr. Mehta has been named an honorary conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, and the Bavarian State Orchestra. In 2006 he was presented with the Artur Rubinstein Una vita nella musica at Teatro La Fenice in Venice and the Kennedy Center Honors.
Mr. Mehta received the Dan David Prize (2007), the Praemium Imperiale by the Japanese Imperial Family (2008), a Hollywood Star (2011), honorary doctorate by the Russian Academy of Art and the Presidential Medal of Distinction from Israeli President Shimon Peres (2012), and the Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony by the President of India (2013). Mr. Mehta's autobiography The Score of My Life: Memories was published in Germany and Israel in 2006. Together with his brother Zarin he is co-chairman of the Mehli Mehta Music Foundation in Bombay, where more than 200 children are educated in Western Classical Music.