Zubin is given new title in LA

Zubin is given new title in LA


norman lebrecht

January 04, 2019

Los Angeles Philharmonic CEO Simon Woods last night appointed Zubin Mehta as Conductor Emeritus of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Mehta was conducting the LA Phil in Brahms’ Violin Concerto and 3rd symphony. In a break in the concert, Woods also read a statement from music director Gustavo Dudamel:
‘From the earliest stages of my career, I have been proud to call Zubin Mehta a trusted mentor and friend. To follow in his footsteps as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic is a true honour. His soul permeates the sound of the orchestra, and his connection to the musicians is profound.
‘Zubin is one of the greatest musicians of our time. He has conducted the world’s most esteemed orchestras and introduced generations to classical music with more than 50 years of recordings and breathtaking performances. Through his humanitarian work, he has given us a model of music’s ability to bridge cultures and bring people together in healing and in harmony.
‘While Zubin is a citizen of the world, we are fortunate that he calls Los Angeles his home. This city and this orchestra would not be the same without him – and he is an inspiration to me. Thank you, Zubin, for the beauty and joy you have given us all.’
Can anyone see the point of this?
Or of any emeritus title?


  • Max says:

    Yes, it’s a so called gesture of gratitude…
    But that might be unknown to somebody, who doesn’t even reward his readers with a proper spam protection after what, like 5 years?
    And provably a lot of money earned…

    • norman lebrecht says:

      What on earth are you talking about? We have Fort Know spam protection on this site. We pay a fortune for it and we don’t charge you a penny. So who, here, is ungrateful?

      • Max says:

        Wait wait wait…you “don’t even charge us for it”?
        You realise it’s our clicks that make you earn money for your click bait articles? Also that would be like saying: you’re welcome for not getting robbed in my bank, I don’t even charge you for it.
        And every second week or so, I’m getting miraculously redirected to spam sites on your page. It doesn’t happen on other sites though…
        So maybe you do your job properly, before insulting someone who is actually your customer and contributing to your wealth with every click. Ever thought about that?

        • Rogerio says:

          Do you think that a man is ever going to land on Uranus?

        • PaulD says:

          I have had the redirect problem on this site with my Android phone, with ads telling me I’ve won an iPhone or have 237 viruses. My solution was to turn off Java Script. Unfortunately for our host, that eliminates the ads that support the site – and blocks the comments. I do not have this problem with my desktop.

      • Patrick says:

        I have the problem, too, but it is not the fault of your site. It is malware on the user’s end. There are ways to fix it, but there’s nothing slippedisc can do about this type of spam. It is as annoying as it is common…

    • anon says:

      For my contributions to this site, I want to be made Contributor Emeritus.

      (And I still don’t understand how I’m the only anon contributor with a mask avatar assigned to me, am I like the Lone Ranger of anonymous contributors? Do I come with my own theme song?)

  • M2N2K says:

    If the point of this is meaningful to the conductor and the orchestra as well as to their fans – and in this case it is – then that is what counts and is more than enough.

  • Michael says:

    I think the Emeritus titles are sometimes overused, but not in this case. It’s a sign of respect and appreciation; and especially for someone who is getting on in years. Mehta’s Los Angeles years were quite possibly his best, I think. It’s remarkable that he still makes appearances there after all these decades; perhaps one of the longest relationships that has ever existed.

    FYI, there is pop-up spam that I am getting sometimes while I visit this site, even with pop-up blockers on. I haven’t had that happen on other sites; it appears to be a recent development as I’ve only noticed it within the past few days.

    • Vince says:

      I get really bad pop-ups from this site when I’m using mobile, but on PC I use Chrome’s adblock and don’t get any. The ads are full paged and has one of those really awful “Congratulations! You just won a prize. Enter your information to receive it!” phishing spams.

  • Andrew Powell says:

    Honorary Conductor would have been more apt.

    To your question, Norman, I think “emeritus” makes sense when a continuing positive association is wanted and believed feasible — which of course is mostly not the case with departing maestros.

    Zubin stepped down from the L.A. Phil 40 years ago and has been an intermittent guest.

    • M2N2K says:

      Fortunately, Zubin Mehta is not “departing” anywhere right now and “a continuing positive association is wanted and believed feasible” for as long as his health cooperates – so, by your own definition of emeritus this title does make sense at this time.

      • Andrew Powell says:

        Meritorious and honorable are akin in meaning, but in usage Dershowitz is emeritus at Harvard while Karajan is honorary at Oxford, and I would say the difference relates to what happens at the end of tenure, if there has been one.

        • M2N2K says:

          If they are “akin in meaning”, your objection is superfluous. But in real usage there is a clear difference that is present in your example as well: “emeritus” is usually still active while “honorary” is not, which is why the former fits ZM much better.

  • Rogerio says:

    How about this;
    – Declare Trump “President Emeritus”
    – Build him a monument (taller than Washington Monument)
    – Let him keep AirForce 1
    – Don’t send him to jail
    As long as he;
    – Leaves now
    – Never comes back

  • Caravaggio says:

    This is the equivalent of golden parachutes in the business world. Didn’t Mehta run the LAO and the NYP to the ground, artistically? Oh wait, it’s a business.

  • Uzi Shalev says:

    Maestro Zubin Mehta deserves every honour and praise for his continuous contribution to the classical music scene over many decades in LA and elsewhere in the world!!!
    I personally witnessed the way he is accepted by audiances all over the globe, be it Japan, Australia, China, Russia, North or South America etc.
    The honor is for LA Phil.!!!

  • Caravaggio says:

    LAP, sorry

  • Phf655 says:

    Bernard Haitink is Conductor Emeritus of the Boston Symphony. I can’t speak for him, the members of the Orchestra, Board, or administration, but as an ardent admirer, it means a lot to me.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      And Haitink has been for many years one of the most regular guest conductors at the BSO. Not a principal guest conductor, but quite close by current standards.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    Well deserved. Mehta’s time in LA boosted the profile of the orchestra.

  • D EDWARDS says:


    • M2N2K says:

      The exact wording of the title is not that important, but “Laureate” was already taken by EPS – hence “Emeritus” for ZM seems like the right choice.

  • Lawrence D. Sonderling says:

    Zubin Mehta hired me in 1976 as a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He built that orchestra into a worldwide respected ensemble. He has given tirelessly of his time, energy, and life to musical and humanitarian causes around the world. I am put in mind of the paraphrase of the old saw that those who can do, and those who can’t become armchair critics. I am tired of those who backhand a man who has done so much for so many. The title of conductor emeritus has been a long time coming for Zubin, and I am proud to have been present when Simon Woods made the announcement. It is indeed meaningful to the orchestra, the audiences, and to Zubin.

  • Nathaniel Rosen says:

    May I respectfully ask the name of the soloist in aforementioned Brahms Violin Concerto?

  • MacroV says:

    Zubin and the LAPO have had a 56-year relationship. When he left in 1978 it might have been time for both parties to change but AFAIK he left on good terms, and has returned regularly in the ensuing years (though I suspect he didn’t during his NYPO years, thanks to the silliness of US exclusivity that seems to prevail in the Big 5). So giving him a title – and considering him a favorite uncle or such – seems right.

    Interesting that Zubin presided over the openings of both Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in LA (1964) and Salle Wilfred-Pelletier in Montreal (about the same time). Both since replaced by better, orchestra-specific halls. He returns periodically to Montreal, too, though not quite as often.

    I know Zubin has many detractors. I’ve often found he seems to be most interesting when he’s guest conducting; less so when leading his own orchestra. In any case, two orchestras whose members have full say over who leads them – Berlin and Vienna – invite him regularly, so I guess he must have something to offer.

    • M2N2K says:

      You made several valid points but your parenthetical suspicion is incorrect: he actually conducted LAPO many times “during his NYPO years” (must have insisted on having a special “exceptionary” clause in his NY contract to do exactly that) and even led “his” LA orchestra on all-Brahms European tour in the spring of 1983 when Carlo Maria Giulini became unavailable due to his wife’s illness.

  • Spenser says:

    Mehta’s years in LA were absolutely marvelous, possibly the best years of his long career.
    Good for you, LA Phil, for naming him Conductor Emeritus!
    And Norman – I love you, boubaleh, but why be such a kvetch?

  • Odin says:

    I believe the honor was appropriate and beyond well-earned. Zubin’s impact on the development of the LA Phil has been tremendous, and as the Conductor Laureate title was already given to EPS, Emeritas makes sense to me. I wish Maestro Mehta many more seasons of great music making, a gift from which we all benefit

  • The title is well-deserved. Esa-Pekka Salonen is listed as Conductor Laureate so Conductor Emeritus for Zubin is a separate title of distinction. Zubin Mehta made the LA Phil better, raised its global profile, expanded the repertoire, and increased its community engagement significantly, especially with the younger generations. I think those years were some of his best and the the LA audiences LOVE this man. I made the trek to Disney Hall Saturday night to hear Brahms and in spite of his current physical limitations from shoulder and hip surgery, he delivered a warm, burnished Brahms 4th. The ovations for him were numerous, lengthy, and quite vocal in enthusiasm. I look forward to hearing more from him.