Breaking: Zubin Mehta to leave Israel Philharmonic

Breaking: Zubin Mehta to leave Israel Philharmonic


norman lebrecht

December 26, 2016

One of the world’s longest musical partnerships is about to end.

Zubin Mehta first conducted the Israel Philharmonic in 1961.

He was named music director for life in 1981.

Today, he announced that he will step down in October 2019.

Zubin Mehta turned 80 earlier this year.

Our friend Amir Mandel has the full story at Haaretz.


  • FreddyNYC says:

    The orchestra members and audiences alike shall sorely miss his mediocre conducting and uneventful performances…..

    • RW2013 says:

      Indeed. An elegant organiser at most.

    • Graham says:

      If so mediocre, why does he have such a long and close relationship with the world’s two greatest orchestras – Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic?

      I have heard him conduct many fine performances. One example was a particularly fine performance of Bruckner 9 in Vienna in March 2015.

  • Joyce Oxfeld says:

    I always was awed by Mr. Mehta’s performances in Philadelphia, with the Philadelphia Orch. , Israeli Philharmonic recordings I’ve heard, and New York Philharmonic. I don’t know whether Politics , or his National origin have gotten to him in recent times. I am saddened by this. He is not getting any younger, and He has always been controversial in Israel for programming Wagner etc. My Hebrew is not good enough to read the more extensive Haaretz Article.

    • James says:

      He hasn’t been controversial at all (not has he programmes Wagner there). He remains much- loved in Israel.

      • Joyce Oxfeld says:

        I’m very relieved to hear this. I guess , His age and amount of International activity has caught up with him, and He is pacing himself a bit more these days. He’s had a very long and Illustrious career.

  • Doug says:

    Is that the black of limo in the photo where he hands out the bags of cash or receives them?

  • M2N2K says:

    He may not be one of the most profound or original of interpreters, but he definitely is a very fine conductor, and all good orchestral musicians who had the pleasure of working with him (at least those couple of hundred of them whom I know personally, obviously) – without exception actually – do like and respect him a great deal. My hope is that after his time commitments with IPO decrease after next season, he will stay healthy and strong for another decade (or two?!) and will thus be able and willing to continue coming to guest conduct my orchestra more often than he has been doing in the recent past.

  • Mario R Lutz says:

    Faced with the ungry exchanges that show a certain frustration and a low personal quality much inferior to the one that musically are being attributed to Mehta, I am going to remember here two episodes just as a listener

    Mehta was a friend of Argentine public, few like Kurt Masur or Lorin Maazel or Franz Paul Decker visited so many times our country.
    Mehta returned to Buenos Aires in 1972, for the first time with The Israel Philharmonic, which debuted at the Colón Theater on a September Sunday, even in mourning for the massacre of Israeli athletes in Munich. There were pressures for the concert to be suspended, but Mehta’s firmness and musicians’ fortitude prevailed and the concert took place, I think it was the best tribute we could give artists and audiences to the Olympic victims.

    Again in September, but from 1982, Zubin Mehta returned to the country, but ahead of the New York Philharmonic.
    The “de facto” military government of Argentina recklessly invaded the Malvinas – Falkland Islands in April, prompting Britain’s military reaction.
    US diplomatic efforts between the United Kingdom and Argentina failed, and the United States strongly supported the British government.
    The Argentine defeat in June increased the animosity towards the US and its citizens.

    The Philharmonics and Zubin Mehta demonstrated once again that diplomatic and political barriers could be overcome by music without borders, and in an unforeseen concert, performed in a stadium with poor acoustics, the concert attracted the public of all ages tripling the already great capacity of the hall of the theater Colón.
    It is very illustrative in this respect, the article of the correspondent of the New York Times in buenos aires.

    Thank you for your musianship dear friend Zubin!!!

    • Holly Golightly says:

      Anyway, now that Obama has dropped Israel in it with his undemocratic action on Israel at the UN (our national newspaper carries a cartoon of MaObama bulldozing some Israeli dwellings, mother and family outside, while he drives at high speed into the distance waving “Peace”. That says it all. Mehta is doing the right thing and Israel will be left much more dangerous without American support.

      Thank you, part-European President Obama. This same part-European doesn’t realize he created the petri dish where a person like Trump could thrive.

      • V.Lind says:

        Oh, honestly. The Settlements are illegal. Nobody gave Israel sanction to live in borders of its own choosing.

        Netanyahu and his gang will do anything to prevent the two-state solution, willingly forfeiting peace. Let’s hope his government’s days are numbered and we get someone more conciliatory in power. Someone who remembers that Palestinians are human beings.

        • Helene Kamioner says:

          Way off topic for this forum, but I am in a state of shock and devastation about this not unexpected play. I found a short but well written comment from MOSAIC MAGAZINE that I take seems apropos at this very dark and bleak moment:
          On Friday, the U.S. declined to veto a UN Security Council resolution that effectively declared it illegal for Jews to live in territories acquired by Israel in 1967. Eran Lerman explains the implications:

          [T]he resolution greatly reduces the likelihood that the Palestinian leadership will have what it takes to strike a workable compromise at the negotiating table. It is weak and divided, and has not been marked hitherto by the courage necessary to make an implementable outcome possible.

          Mahmoud Abbas did offer a conciliatory note after the UN vote, calling for coexistence and implying that he is aware that the future still depends on the Israeli electorate. But he is less able now than ever before to offer a vision that departs from the template of expectations he and his colleagues have generated. A “solution” tailored to satisfy the hopes fostered by the resolution’s text—i.e., the delegitimization and ultimate removal of each and every Jew living beyond the 1949 armistice lines, absurdly including east Jerusalem—simply cannot be implemented. Anyone who encourages the Palestinians to believe that the forced removal of hundreds of thousands is preferable to a convoluted but practical compromise that would involve human dislocation on a much smaller scale—and that leaves Jerusalem a living, united city—is abetting a pipe dream.

          Venezuela and Malaysia, virulent anti-Israel players, [supported the resolution] for their own reasons. Senegal tagged along. New Zealand may have failed to comprehend what the initiative entails, and in Europe the settlements have been an obsessive preoccupation for years. But the Obama administration was well positioned to know that this resolution would do little but harm. Its decision to let it happen anyway, when Egypt offered a legitimate and honorable way out, raises troubling questions about Barack Obama’s motives.

          • Holly Golightly says:

            Another toxic legacy of the Obama administration.

            As for Palestinian “humanity”…Hamas.


  • Manco Mangananzo says:

    May I just say, especially to FreddyNyc and RW2013 (while I completely disagree with you both), Zubin has never been one of the greatest conductors, even though, for one reason or another he was widely popular during his time. The history will, however, remember him as one of the greatest accompanists ever. My rich professional experience (in addition to all that is available on Youtube) can assure you (and probably both of you know this) that to be able to accompany marvelously is a task that could not be acomplished by…mediocre and elegant organizer…at most…, but rather by fantasticaly gifted chamber musician with flawless and unique musical skills.

    • Novagerio says:

      Then check Mehta being completely lost with Horowitz in Rachmaninov’s 3rd…

      • Mangananzo says:

        I dont have to check anything. Are you perfect, dude? I am sure as perfect you think you are, we can find thing or two about you to answer the question “What is wrong with you?”

    • Holly Golightly says:

      Carlos Kleiber once referred to Zubin Mehta as “that thug”.

      • Mr Oakmountain says:

        Says more about Kleiber than Mehta.

        • Sue says:

          Kleiber had 20 times the stature, personality and talent!! Not to mention the looks.

          • M2N2K says:

            Your calculations are way off. The number can hardly be any higher than 15. And i am glad you are not mentioning the looks.

          • Mr Oakmountain says:

            I’m not questioning Kleiber’s talent or acchievements. I question the validity of using his childish insult towards a colleague as an argument in the discussion of Mehta’s talent or acchievements.
            The same goes for Karajan calling Abbado “italienischer Korrepititor” or somebody … was it Kleiber … calling Karajan “Coca Cola Conductor”. Everyone is welcome to like or dislike someone’s performances or recordings, but name calling always is more revealing about the character of the caller rather than the called one.

          • Saxon Broken says:

            Do let us know some more of these inter-conductor spats and insults: they always amuse.

    • M2N2K says:

      Agree completely — as an accompanying conductor, he is absolutely superb. He breathes and phrases together with the soloist and manages to anticipate every fluctuation of rhythm and dynamics which enables him to lead the orchestra as a true musical partner of the soloist rather than just trying to follow the latter with various success as do most others.

  • Doug Grant says:

    He is 80 and will give 3 more years
    The orchestra has plenty notice to sign a replacement
    Win, win in my view

  • Helene Kamioner says:

    Maestro Mehta was beloved by the public and press in Munich when he served as Music Director of The Bayerische Staatsoper at the same time I was Director of North American PR. He leaves a great legacy, and i am grateful, proud and honored that this super star was so generous with his gifts and loyal friendship to the Country of Israel.

    • Holly Golightly says:

      Yes, it’s great to know Israel has at least one friend!!

      • Helene Kamioner says:

        O! beware, my lord, of jealousy;
        It is the green-eyed monster which
        doth mock the meat it feeds on.
        – William Shakespeare

    • Ungeheuer says:

      So, what became of Peter Jonas? Seems he vanished into thin air along with the two-state solution.

      • Helene Kamioner says:

        From what I know, Sir Peter has recovered from a fall that hospitalized him and is living la vida loca, spatziering around and enjoying the world with his wife. God Bless him always. It was a great honor to be associated with him.

        • Ungeheuer says:

          Well, what else do you do when chronically unemployed? Speaking of “la vida loca”, it was precisely his introduction of ENO-styled “vida loca” productions at the Bavarian State Opera that sent him wandering prematurely and eternally through the seas. They were that ghastly and incompetent. In the meantime, the celebrated soprano he infamously tried to derail (you know who that is) continues performing. Greetings.

          • Helene Kamioner says:

            After devoting most of his life to making music and opera, and I adored every production in Munich, particularly those by David Alden, he retired by his own volition, and remains today one of the most powerful, respected and beloved figures in the real music world.

        • Ungeheuer says:

          Hmm, the “real” music world, as opposed to? Pete Jonas may remain “powerful” (whatever that may mean), probably more in his own mind and those of his acolytes than in latter day reality, but in Munich, many will neither forgive nor forget.

  • Roberto says:

    Zubin Mehta is one of the most underestimated conductors out there. I sense that people are tremendous envious of his huge and impressive success. His recording of Mahler 2nd with the VPO, per se, is enough to put him among the greatest.

    I also enjoy his “La Fanciulla del West” with Carol Neblett and Placido Domingo.

    • Papageno says:

      Very underestimated. He also made several outstanding recordings with the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Decca, including Holst’s The Planets, Strauss’ Alpine Symphony, Don Quixote, and Also Sprach Zarathustra, and Mahler’s 3rd Symphony. And there is also his long-standing relationships with the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics (the latter of which he made that legendary Mahler 2nd with).

      I’ll be seeing him conduct Ein Heldenleben with the LA Philharmonic next month and am greatly looking forward to it.

  • Howard L. Hillyer says:

    when Mehta brought the Israel Philharmonic to Pittsburgh I was interested to see “Zubbie Baby” at work. I loved it. Wonderful spirit throughout. Made me a believer.