Faridoon Shahryar's Blog

Monday, November 16, 2015

Zubin Mehta's 'The Score Of My Life': 200 Pages of Preciousness

Book Review:

Zubin Mehta's 'The Score Of My Life': 200 Pages of Preciousness
By Faridoon Shahryar

"I think people should try to talk to each other instead of shooting at each other," says world renowned Western Music Conductor #ZubinMehta in his auto biography #TheScoreOfMyLife. Mehta had told his life story to Renate Grafin Matuschka and it has been translated from German to English by Anu Pande (Roli Books). What I found most interesting about this book is Mehta's many encounters with extreme political situations all around the world and how he tried his best to bring peace in whatever way possible.

As an eighteen year old music lover Zubin landed in Vienna. Cold war had gripped  Europe as it was trying to recover from the catastrophic aftermath of the second world war. The bond of loyalty that Mr Mehta developed due to his various associations is something that he held very close to his heart. After becoming a Conductor of eminence, Mehta got associated with Israel Philaharmonic Orchestra.  During the Arab-Israel 6 day war in 1967, he flew into Israel against all opposition and under very intense circumstances. He organised concerts free of cost to lessen the stress of people. He repeated the gesture during the Gulf War as Saddam Husain's Scud missiles were plundering the Israeli soil. Mehta comes across as someone who has always been very neutral and has never supported anyone because of the religion they belonged to. He was born a Parsi and has a lot of pride in his roots. But that doesn't stop him from criticising the conservative nature of Parsi religion that bars an individual if he/she marries a non Parsi. Mehta laments that due to this lack of liberalism, Parsi religion may get extinct in 100 years.

Zubin candidly talks about his personal life. He was married to Carmin Lasky. They got divorced and Lasky married Mehta's brother Zarin. At no point he's critical of Lasky or the fact that she married his brother. The second marriage was with Nancy Kovack, to whom he's still happily married. Zubin admits to a child out of a casual relationship between the two marriages. He also admits to another child which was born a couple of decades ago out of a brief affair with an Israeli woman. He profusely apologised to Nancy for his 'misadventure'. The book also delves in detail about Zubin's immense regard for his father Mehli Mehta, who was a self taught Violinist and who inspired the son to develop a keen interest in music. What is most notable is that at no point of time does Mehta deride any of his close relatives. Many a times celebrities use auto biography as a perfect platform to hit back at people who let them down in anyways. Mehta is too big a Man for such cheapness.

Mehta laments that today the Art of Western Music is primarily having patrons amongst the older generation. He hopes that some serious steps will be taken to create an interest for Western Music amongst the younger generation. In fact, almost half the book is dedicated to the many Concerts that the maestro was part of, the various organisations that he got associated with, the various Orchestras he headed, their problems, how he learnt from the criticism, why he didn't take the reviews of his Concerts too seriously and how it is tough for the older generation of musicians as they hit a certain age. Somehow this part of Zubin's life story will be best appreciated by those who understand Western Music to some extent or have a keen interest in this Art form. Regular readers may not make much sense of these portions.

Zubin Mehta's #TheScoreOfMyLife makes for a wonderful read if you are inspired by Western Music. If you're not, still, this man has lived one hell of an interestingly inspiring life. Do catch hold of a copy. It is 200 pages of preciousness.

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