Zubin Mehta was Music Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra from 1961 to 1967 becoming Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in 1962, a post he retained until 1978. In 1969 he also became Music Adviser to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and was made Music Director of that orchestra in 1977. In 1981 he was made Music Director for life. Zubin Mehta has conducted over two thousand concerts with this extraordinary ensemble including tours spanning five continents. In 1978 took over the post as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic commencing a tenure lasting 13 years, the longest in the orchestra's history. Since 1985, he has been chief conductor of the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence.
Zubin Mehta made his debut as an opera conductor with Tosca in Montreal in 1963. Since then he has conducted at the Metropolitan Opera New York, the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Scala Milan, and the opera houses of Chicago and Florence as well as at the Salzburg Festival. Between 1998 and 2006 he was Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera where he conducted more that 400 performances. In October 2006 he opened the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia and is since then the President of the annual Festival del Mediterrani in Valencia, where he recently completed a new production of Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle in collaboration with the production team of La Fura del Baus.
Zubin Mehta's list of awards and honours is extensive and includes the "Nikisch-Ring" bequeathed to him by Karl Böhm. He is an honorary citizen of both Florence and Tel Aviv and was made an honorary member of the Vienna State Opera in 1997. In 2001 he was bestowed the title of “Honorary Conductor” of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and in 2004 the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra awarded him the same title, as did the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in 2006. At the end of his tenure with the Bavarian State Opera he was named Honorary Conductor of the Bavarian State Orchestra and Honorary Member of the Bavarian State Opera. In December 2006 he received the “Kennedy Center Honor”. The Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Wien appointed him in November 2007 honorary member. In October 2008 Zubin Mehta was honoured by the Japanese Imperial Family with the “Praemium Imperiale”.
The support of young talents is of major interest to Zubin Mehta. He founded and follows the Mehli Mehta Music Foundation in Bombay where more than 300 children find access to Western Classical Music. The Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel Aviv educates young talents in Israel and is closely related to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, as is a new project of teaching young Arab Israelis in the cities of Shwaram and Nazareth with local teachers and members of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Zubin Mehta is also closely related from its beginnings to the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofia in Madrid.