In his own words

From The Score of My Life…The Israel Philharmonic is like family to me. Apart from a few exceptions I have chosen and appointed the musicians myself from among the candidates shortlisted by a special committee. I am familiar with every little characteristic of this orchestra, just as they know every single gesture of mine. Conducting is to a large extent communicating. It helps when there is a good level of understanding between the two parties, that is, when they understand each other without anything being said, in other words before we begin to play or conduct. When the orchestra and the conductor communicate so well as a team, as in the case of the Israel Philharmonic and me, then it is always possible to reach a true musical consensus. In this case it is not about striving for the lowest common denominator, but rather aiming at the maximum attainable.

“It is easier for me to reach this level of communication with the Israel Philharmonic as compared to other orchestras even though it is not exiled Poles or musicians from Vienna and Hungary who anymore call the tune. Most of the members of the orchestra now are from Russia, and I, unfortunately, cannot communicate with them. But even if our verbal communication does not work so well we understand each other perfectly at a musical level.

“During my initial years in Israel I also knew many of the musicians personally. We met outside the concert halls and they even invited me to their homes too. I think that for some of them I played a role that lay somewhere between those of a confessor, psychologist and career counsellor.”

Extracted from Chapter 6: “Another Love Story — The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra”, p.92. Zubin Mehta: The Score Of My Life, As told to Renate Gräfin Matuschka, translated from the German by Anu Pande, Roli Books, with a foreword by Pandit Ravi Shankar, Rs. 395

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