Los Angeles, Oct. 20 (Reuters): Mehli Mehta, founder of the Bombay Symphony, longtime leader of the American Youth Symphony and father of conductor Zubin Mehta, has died at the age of 94.
The elder Mehta died of heart failure and other complications yesterday at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center.
Mehta was a lifelong devotee of Western classical music. He studied at the University of Bombay and the Trinity College of Music in London. He went on to found the Bombay Symphony in 1935 and served for 10 years as concertmaster before becoming its conductor.
Born in Mumbai in 1908, he moved to New York in 1945 to study violin and later moved to Los Angeles, where he directed until 1976 the orchestra department of the University of California at Los Angeles. Mehta was mentor to generations of music students.
Violinist Lawrence Sonderling, a former American Youth Symphony concertmaster, said Mehta “did everything with great intensity and great purpose and great love for music ... always the intensity was there. And the passion.”
during 33 years has music director and conductor of the American Youth Symphony, where he was known as an inspiring taskmaster. Under his leadership Ä he retired in 1998 Ä the orchestra grew to 110 musicians and performed around the world.
”Any concert of mine that he attended there was no doubt to whom my message was going,” Zubin Mehta said.
Zubin Mehta, former music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic, is currently director for life of the Israel Philharmonic and general music director of the Bavarian State Opera.
Mehli Mehta's other son, Zarin, is executive director of the New York Philharmonic and was previously executive director of the Montreal Symphony as well as the Ravinia Festival in Chicago.
In addition to his sons, Mehli Mehta is survived by Tehminas, his wife of 67 years, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.