Wolf Prize Laureate in Music 1996/7
The Prize Committee for Arts (Music) has unanimously decided that the Prize for 1995/6 be awarded to: Zubin Mehta and Gyorgy Ligeti.
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Tel Aviv, Israel
“who is considered one of the world’s foremost conductors of our time. His humanitarian contributions to bring people together through the universal language of music and his constant encouragement of young artists, are unforgettable.”
Maestro Zubin Mehta was born in Bombay, India, in 1936. He received early training in music from his father, Mehli Mehta, first concertmaster and later conductor of the Bombay Symphony. He studied violin and piano from the age of 7, and by the time he was 16 he was conducting concerto accompaniments for his father.
He left Bombay for Vienna to study piano, composition, string bass and conducting at the Academy of Music. He played in various orchestras, graduating in 1957 with diploma in conducting. In the following year Mehta conducted the Musikverein in Vienna and won the first prize of the First International Conductors Competition, in Liverpool, England.
Substituting for Eugene Ormandy, Mehta became the youngest conductor ever to lead the Vienna Philharmonic. He was also the youngest man to conduct the then 25-year old Israel Philharmonic in 1961, which he has been invited to conduct each year since. He later became Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic, and in 1981 this appointment was extended for life.
Many important guest-conducting engagements followed. In 1962, at the age of 26, he was engaged to be Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has been Music Director of the Montreal Symphony, the New York Philharmonic and the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. In 1998 he will assume his newly appointed post as General Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera.
Zubin Mehta has been awarded many international distinctions, including the ‘Order of the Lotus’, India´s highest cultural award for outstanding accomplishment in the arts and sciences. Mehta received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science.