Tears in orchestra and audience as Zubin steps down

Tears in orchestra and audience as Zubin steps down


norman lebrecht

July 15, 2019

This weekend saw Zubin Mehta’s farewell concerts as music director of the Israel Philharmonic after 50 years in the role.

The Times of Israel reports of the Saturday night event: ‘The grassy expanse of the Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv was filled with an enormous crowd of young and old, who rose almost simultaneously as the now frail, but still charismatic maestro took the stage, opening with the orchestra’s moving rendition of Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah.”’…

Read on here.

An orchestra player writes of Verdi Requiem on Sunday:

“Libera me” … and then just like that, the audience, the orchestra and Zubin Mehta were all crying.

After 50 years, Zubin Mehta conducted his final performance in Tel Aviv as Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

I have no words.

photo:  Hanoch Grizitzky

A clipe from the farewell Requiem:


  • Anton Bruckner says:

    At this point of time all that needs to be said is that ZM is a true culture hero of Israel and he will be cherished for generations to come.

  • Manuel Drezner says:

    Last concert? He is scheduled to conduct in Colombia next week

    • Follower says:

      Yesterday Zubin Mehta conducted his last concert in Tel Aviv as the music director of IPO. During next two months the orchestra will play more than 20 concerts with him in South America and Europe.

    • Girish says:

      Wonderful human being and a great Maestro.I hope he heals soon


  • I find it remarkable, and a measure of Israel’s democratic values, that Mehta had some strong words of criticism for the country’s settlement policies in occupied lands:

    “I admire the Israelis… for their patience at the status quo policy their present government leads. A situation in which nothing progresses. I am worried a great deal about it, as someone who knows Israel’s image around the world very well. Israel is isolated, and I will say it again: Isolated.”

    He added:

    “I hate to imagine what would happen if one of the settlements had to be evacuated. After all, the settlers say they will be removed only ‘over their dead bodies.’ I say: Think about the human aspect. You cannot take land from someone else and explain it is yours according to the Bible. It is as if we, the believers in the Zoroastrian religion, now demand land in Iran because a thousand years ago we lived there.”

    The Haaretz article with these comments is here:


    Agree or disagree, I continue to marvel at the quality and breath of viewpoints in Haaretz’s journalism.

    Please forgive me if I don’t debate the settlement issue.

    • Araragi says:

      ZM: “I hate to imagine what would happen if one of the settlements had to be evacuated…”

      I second your admiration for an Israeli democracy that recognizes the right of its citizens to criticize their government. But does Zubin not remember 2005 when Israel withdrew from Gaza? Zero casualties.

      • william osborne says:

        Gaza, of course, is something quite different than the West Bank.

        • Arargai says:

          William: I don’t fault you, because no one seems to recall that, simultaneously with the Gaza withdrawal, Israel withdrew four of its West Bank settlements and had plans to “unsettle” more before it became readily apparent that the Palestinians were not reacting peacefully to Israel’s gesture.

  • Eayl Braun says:

    Mehta is leading the IPO in a South-America tour later this month, and in some of the major festivals in Europe in august September.

    In October a festival will be held in Tel -Aviv which celebrates Mehta, during which he will conduct many of his favorite works and hosts some of his beloved soloists – Kissin, Buchbinder, Zuckerman, Bromfman, Kavakos etc.only than, he will leave the post.

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    A conductor who did not know how to retire on time. His concert in June with the Wiener Philharmoniker was embarrassing. A complete disgrace. A conductor of this calibre should had known better when was time to retire.

    • esfir ross says:

      I’m glad to see this dictator leaving. There was many poor performances with ZM. He retires because of poor health. ZM through decade brought IPO to low quality level and this I heard from orchestra players that was my school mates, partners.

    • FilharMonika says:

      what a shit…to say this on 50th years directorship andso many joy Maestro was giving us all over the world

      • Yawn says:

        Here’s what the late Ray Still, the great oboist of the Chicago Symphony, said about ZM: “A recent telecast showed impressive closeups of Mehta ‘feeling the music,’ an ecstatic, almost orgasmic look on his face . The music coming out of the orchestra was of secondary importance and not very good.” Chicago Interview, Sept. 1986.

    • Zarina Mehta says:

      You have no idea what this man has through in the past year and yet after a grave illness he still had in him to do what he loves best no Mehta gives up .He as his father before him will persevere until his death .at his age of 83 he is an amazing man to come back weak or not and conduct his heart out

      • FrauGeigerin says:

        I don’t care about him and his private life. I care about what I see on the podium, and it has been declining from OK (good for some people) to bad. He should had retired long time ago.

      • Patrick says:

        Living in the west coast of Canada, we don’t often have the experience to experience great musicians at work. I have somehow been fortunate that I had encountered Maestro Metha several times in my travels, completely by chance – in Lucerne, in Buenos Aires, and in Seattle. (He did visit Vancouver once with the IPO.) Maestro Mehta is a sincere and wonderful musician and a great conductor. I’m sorry that he has had some health issues in the last few years. I wish him continuing good health so that we can benefit from many more years of his music making. I’m very sorry that people have to be so unkind when they are expressing their opinions on the internet.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    A remarkable legacy in LA, NY, and Israel. He has been a genius at choosing players for his orchestras.

    • Yawn says:

      Nothing remarkable about his stints with these orchestras. He was all flash and no depth. For LA and NY, more capable conductors such as Giulini and Masur brought these two orchestras back to greatness. He overstayed his welcome far too long. He is a nice man and I wish him well in retirement but I can’t think of a duller conductor than ZM.

      • esfir ross says:

        ZM was very promising as young conductor but through the years more of disappointment.

        • Novagerio says:

          An overworked maestro yes, and it’s costing him his health. Dull? Never.

          • Saxon Broken says:

            Audiences liked watching him on stage performing…the musicians less so.

          • FrauGeigerin says:

            That is the problem. People are going now too much to watch the conductors, and not enough to listen to the music. That explains why so many unnmusical, eccentric, flashy, young, jumping, and often sweaty conductors (both male and female), are adored by audiences and ignorant critics and not so much by the musicians.

      • Greg Bottini says:

        If you can get a hold of a copy, listen to his live Mahler 2 with the New York Phil, part of the Mahler Symphony box the orchestra put out many years ago.
        Dull? I think not….and his R. Strauss recordings with the L.A. Phil were the best since Reiner’s.
        His “Trovatore” recording with Price and Domingo is crackling with excitement.
        Stop yawning and open your ears!

    • Don’t forget Munich! Did Mehta pick up where Lenny left off?

  • Steven J de Mena says:

    He will still be Music Director at his final concerts in October in Tel Aviv. From their web site:
    “The end of the current season and the beginning of next season will mark Maestro Zubin Mehta’s retirement from the music directorship of the IPO. The 2019-20 Season will be unique – Zubin Mehta, the world-celebrated conductor, who headed the IPO for fifty years and led it to great accomplishments, is retiring.”

  • Merle says:

    A truly gifted human being.

  • Yossel says:

    Also very worthwhile are his performances with the Berlin Philharmonic on their streaming site. In particular, there’s a Mahler First that’s just wonderful.

  • Hilary says:

    Let’s hope his conducting mssterclasses resurface. Dating from the mid 80s they inc.Prague symph and Rite of Spring.

  • sorin braun says:

    Baruch she-p’taranu.IPO is an extremely boring orchestra , although it plays remarkably accurate.Mehta’s repertoir has been awful from the beginning – 85% same pieces with the common dictatorial pretext that that’s what the people want.
    He is a genius , remembers even long operas by heart , speaks fluently many different languages and amazing PR man.
    Some performances were , ok.A very small part , maybe 1% were very good.

  • Louise says:

    Maestro Zubin Mehta est aujourd’hui le plus grand chef d’orchestre du monde, je lui souhaite
    de continuer de nous enchanter avec sa musique qui nous transporte vers un monde meilleur!