Zubin Mehta was born in Bombay/Mumbai on 29 April 1936, and grew up in a Parsi family. It was his father, a concert violinist and founder of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra, that he received his first musical education, thereby acquiring a familiarity with European classical music. After two semesters studying medicine, he decided to devote his entire attention to music. At the age of 18, Mehta came to Vienna, where he studied piano, composition and the double bass at the Academy of Music. He was taught conducting by Hans Swarowsky. Zubin Mehta began his career as a conductor in 1958, when he won the Liverpool International Conducting Competition. He became involved in exchange programmes for young musicians and himself was one of the youngest conductors ever to take the rostrum before the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras. He is still today linked by bonds of friendship with the two orchestras, and the Vienna Philharmonic has awarded him their "Ring of Honour" as a symbol of their appreciation.
In America, Charles Munch, the head of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, soon took note of the young conductor, and assisted his career in the New World, Mehta spent thirteen years as Music Director in New York, and also worked in Montreal, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, developing the latter's Philharmonic Orchestra into one of the world's most highly appreciated bodies of musicians. Zubin Mehta also served as musical advisor and chief conductor of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, performing almost 2,000 concerts with this orchestra on five continents. For his commitment to Israel, the maestro was awarded the United Nations Peace and Tolerance Prize, handed to him personally by Lea Rabin. He debuted as opera conductor at the early age of 28 in Melbourne. He was then engaged by the major opera houses of the world, in London, Milan, Florence, New York, Vienna and the Salzburg Festival. The Vienna State Opera House made this popular conductor an honorary member. Mehta, famous for his positive approach to open-air performances, also conducted the spectacular Turandot performance in the Forbidden City in Beijing. Most recently, Mehta was the General Musical Director of the Bavarian State Opera House for eight years. This popular Indian and world-famous conductor conducted the 2007 New Year's Concert in Vienna for the fourth time.