Well-known Indian music conductor Zubin Mehta has been chosen for the second Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony 2013 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to cultural harmony.
Mr Mehta was chosen unanimously by a high-level jury under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and comprising the Chief Justice of India, Justice Altamas Kabir, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi after detailed discussions on July 4.
The annual award was instituted by the Government of India during the commemoration of the150th birth anniversary of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
The first Tagore Award was conferred on Indian sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar in 2012.
The award carries an amount of Rs. 1 crore, a citation in a scroll, a plaque as well as an exquisite traditional handicraft/handloom item.
The award is open to all persons regardless of nationality, race, language, caste, creed or sex, an official press release added.
Born in 1936 in Mumbai, Mehta received his first musical education under the guidance of his father Mehli Mehta, who was a noted concert violinist and the founder of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra.
Mehta dabbled in pre-medical studies for some time in Mumbai before leaving for Vienna, where he eventually entered the conducting programme under Hans Swarowsky at the Akademie für Musik.
He won the Liverpool International Conducting Competition in 1958 and was also a prize-winner of the summer academy at Tanglewood. By 1961 he had already conducted the Vienna, Berlin and Israel Philharmonic Orchestras. He recently celebrated 50 years of musical collaboration with all three ensembles.
Mehta was Music Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra from 1961 to 1967 and of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra from 1962 to 1978.
In 1969, he was Music Adviser to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and was made its Music Director in 1977. In 1981, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra named him Music Director for life.
In 1978, he took over as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic for a tenure that lasted 13 years, the longest in the orchestra's history.
Later, he took over as the chief conductor of the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence.
Mehta has also 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.