He was born in India, trained in Vienna, and became the youngest conductor of a major American symphony orchestra in 1962. He has been the artistic director of the Israel Philharmonic since 1968, and also has to his many credits the appointment at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. He is Zubin Mehta.
And to celebrate his 70th birthday in 2006, London/Decca, for whom he did many of his greatest recordings, bought together those many great recordings in this 6-CD set. As par for Mehta's course, the lion's share of works on this set eminate from the Romantic and 20th Century eras of classical music, with a couple of very modern pieces (William Kraft's "Concerto For Four Percussion Soloists"; Gottfried von Einem's "Philadelphia Symphony") thrown in for good measure.
While there are recordings that he did with the Israel Philharmonic and the Vietnna Philharmonic, the bulk of this 6-CD set focuses in on the sixteen years he spent, from 1962 to 1978, as the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, elevating that ensemble to world-class status during his tenure. Examples of this include the famous 1977 recordings of John Williams' music for STAR WARS and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND; the 1971 recording of Gustav Holst's "The Planets"; a thunderous 1974 recording of Bruckner's apocalyptic Symphony No. 8; and their famous 1968 recording of Richard Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (a work made forever famous that year via its memorable use in Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY). If this occasionally seems like an imbalance in favor of his L.A. years, it is only to show how important he was to putting Los Angeles on the classical music map, a status that his successors (Giulini; Previn; Salonen) have continued to maintain ever since.
Zubin Mehta was not only one of the great conductors of the 20th century. The plain truth is that he is a great conductor for the ages, period. And this 6-CD compilation is ironclad proof of that.