I am so proud of India: Zubin Mehta
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I am so proud of India: Zubin Mehta

Born in Mumbai in 1936 into a musical family and based in Germany, the star conductor remains true to his country.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2006 12:26 IST

Star conductor and cosmopolitan Zubin Mehta remains true to his country India. He is also faithful to the orchestras he has worked with in the past.

Zubin Mehta is a cosmopolitan. He feels at home in many countries, as he does in Germany, where he has been musical director at the Bavarian State Orchestra in Munich for almost eight years.

Nevertheless his 'original home,' as he refers to it, remains India.

"Whenever I return to India, I know that I belong there," the lively 70-year-old conductor says. Since his 18th birthday, Mehta has visited the land of his birth only every couple of years, usually to put on concerts with an orchestra.

Most recently he flew at the end of last year to India with the Bavarian State Orchestra to give two concerts within three days.

It was no coincidence that the musical maestro chose the day after Christmas for his appearance in Chennai.

Mehta was marking the second anniversary of the tsunami, commemorating the victims along the Bay of Bengal and fundraising for the needy, as he also did in New Delhi.

Mehta was also keen to show 'his musicians' of the Munich opera house the land of his birth.

"I am so proud of my country," he says, pointing to India's rapid economic growth. "There is scarcely a day when I do not read in a German or English newspaper what a great future India has."

The way Mehta refers to 'his musicians' is typical.

In general, he has a strong relationship with the orchestras he has worked with during the course of his life.

"I am a very faithful person," he says of himself.

Mehta will be leaving the Bavarian State Opera in the summer to devote more time to his numerous projects.

But he intends to come back every year, as both the State Orchestra and the Munich Philharmonic have become 'part of my musical family.'

In 2004, the Philharmonic, where he has been guest conductor for the past 20 years, named him its first and only honorary conductor.

Mehta was born in Mumbai in 1936 into a musical family and learnt to love Western classical music as a child.

"I became a musician because I always wanted to be able to conduct the four symphonies of Brahms and the tone poems of Richard Strauss," he writes in his memoirs.

Mehta spent his student years in Vienna, and from then on his career took off.

There were engagements in Montreal and Los Angeles, and while still in his mid-twenties he conducted top world orchestras like the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic.

He has been guest conductor at the New York Met and La Scala in Milan.

The star conductor is known for being open to large-scale musical spectacles, and in this spirit he is to put on a concert of superlatives for the football World Cup in cooperation with his Munich colleagues, Christian Thielemann and Mariss Jansons.

Three days before the first whistle blows, the Munich State Orchestra, the Philharmonic and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra will combine under their conductors to put on an open-air concert in Munich's Olympic Stadium on June 6.

Mehta acknowledges that he knows little about football.

After a stressful engagement he does sometimes watch 'a good football match,' but in sport he is true to his Indian heritage.

"When it comes to sport, my passion is cricket," he says. Mehta will, however, follow events at the World Cup, although without strong feeling, "because India is not participating."

First Published: Jun 06, 2006 11:51 IST