Conductor Zubin Mehta was born in Bombay, India, in 1936. His father, Mehli Mehta, founder and conductor of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra, was his first musical influence. Zubin studied piano and violin as a child, and at the age of sixteen he conducted his first orchestra rehearsal. At eighteen he entered the Academy of Music in Vienna, where he learned to play the double bass, and studied conducting with Hans Swarowsky. He received additional training in conducting from Carlo Zecchi and Alceo Galliera, both at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy.
After graduating from the Vienna Academy of Music in 1957, Mehta made his conducting debut with the Tonkünstler Orchestra in Vienna's Musikverein. Later, he won a conductors' competition sponsored by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic; the prize was a year as the Liverpool orchestra's assistant conductor. In 1961, he was appointed music director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra; shortly thereafter, without abandoning his directorship of the Montreal Symphony, he accepted a position as associate conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. When he assumed the directorship of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1962, Mehta became the youngest conductor at that time to simultaneously lead two major orchestras.
In 1965, Mehta made his Metropolitan Opera debut conducting Aida. There followed frequent appearances conducting opera in Vienna, Florence, Rome, and, in 1977, at Covent Garden, in London. Mehta has enjoyed a long association with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He was named as its music advisor in 1969, appointed music director in 1977, then, in 1981, made music director for life. Having already, in 1967, stepped down as director of the Montreal Symphony, Mehta left the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1978 to take up the baton as conductor of the New York Philharmonic, a position he held until 1991. Since 1986, he has been the music advisor and conductor of the Italian summer festival Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. He is also, among other posts, the current music director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.
Mehta's recordings include the major works of the orchestral and operatic repertoire as well as collaborations with the phenomenally popular Three Tenors: Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and José Carreras. Cultural honors he has received include the Order of the Lotus, from India, the Médaille d'Or Vermeil (gold medal), from the city of Paris, and an appointment as Commendatore (Commander/Knight) by the Italian government.