The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) is one of Israel's oldest and most influential cultural institutions. Since its founding in 1936, the IPO has dedicated itself to presenting the world's greatest music to audiences in Israel and around the world. Founded by Polish violinist Bronisław Huberman, the IPO represents the fulfillment of his dream "to unite the desire of the country for an orchestra with the desire of the Jewish musicians for a country." Huberman spent countless hours persuading first-chair musicians of Eastern European and German orchestras, who had lost their jobs as a result of Nazism, to immigrate to Palestine. In doing so, he created an "orchestra of soloists" which, under the esteemed leadership of Zubin Mehta, continues to absorb new immigrants and act as a dynamic, global community for musicians from across the world.
Major soloists and conductors have always performed with the IPO. Its inaugural concert was conducted by Arturo Toscanini, who believed that his participation was a means to demonstrate his opposition to fascism. Among Israelis, the memory of IPO Laureate Conductor Leonard Bernstein leading the orchestra in front of 5,000 soldiers on the Negev dunes in 1948 remains a historic moment. The orchestra has also enjoyed associations with such renowned artists as Emanuel Ax, Daniel Barenboim, Yefim Bronfman, Yoel Levi, Yo-Yo Ma, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Itzhak Perlman, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Arthur Rubinstein, Gil Shaham, Isaac Stern, and Pinchas Zukerman.
The IPO is Israel's premier cultural ambassador and travels extensively throughout the world, particularly to countries where there is little or no Israeli representation. The goodwill created by these tours--which have included historic visits to Japan, Argentina, Poland, Hungary, Russia, China, and India--is of enormous value to the State of Israel. In 2005, the orchestra traveled to Berlin to commemorate 40 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany; to London, Paris, and Geneva on a tour co-sponsored by the Weizmann and Pasteur institutes; and to South America, where the orchestra visited eight cities in 20 days.
Due to the efforts of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Foundation, the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and the generous support of donors worldwide, the orchestra returned to its home at Tel Aviv's newly renamed Charles Bronfman Auditorium in March 2013 after extensive renovations.
Born in Mumbai, Zubin Mehta grew up in a musical environment. His father, Mehli Mehta, founded the Bombay Symphony Orchestra and was music director of the American Youth Symphony in Los Angeles. Zubin Mehta's initial field of study was medicine, but he abandoned it at the age of 18 to attend the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien. Seven years later, he conducted both the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Berliner Philharmoniker. He rapidly became one of the world's most sought after conductors, holding directorships with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (1961-1967), Los Angeles Philharmonic (1962-1978), New York Philharmonic (1978-1991), and Bayerische Staatsoper (1998-2006). The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) appointed Mr. Mehta music advisor in 1969, music director in 1977, and music director for life in 1981. Combining concerts, recordings, and tours, Mr. Mehta has conducted thousands of performances on five continents with the IPO. Since 1985, he has also acted as chief conductor of the music festival Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Italy, becoming honorary conductor for life in 2006.
Mr. Mehta has received countless awards and distinctions, including the Kennedy Center Honors; the Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony in India; the President's Medal of Distinction from Israeli President Shimon Peres; the Praemium Imperiale from the Japanese imperial family; honorary doctorates from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, and Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel; a special recognition at the ceremony of the Israel Prize; and a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is an honorary citizen of both Florence and Tel Aviv, and an honorary member of the Vienna State Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, and Vienna's Musikverein. In 2006, his autobiography--Die Partitur meines Leben: Erinnerungen (The Score of My Life: Memories)--was published in Germany and Israel.
Zubin Mehta continues to support the discovery and promotion of musical talent all over the world. Together with his brother Zarin, he is co-chairman of the Mehli Mehta Music Foundation in Mumbai, where more than 200 children are educated in Western classical music.
Internationally recognized as one of today's most acclaimed and admired pianists, Yefim Bronfman stands among a handful of artists regularly sought by festivals, orchestras, conductors, and recital series. His commanding technique, power, and exceptional lyrical gifts are consistently acknowledged by the press and audiences alike.
In recognition of a relationship of more than 30 years, Mr. Bronfman joins the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra--conducted by Zubin Mehta--for concerts during the orchestra's US tour in the fall, followed by performances in Munich, London, and Vienna with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Mariss Jansons, another frequent partner and collaborator. In addition to returning to perform with the New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra, he tours with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Andrés Orozco-Estrada in a special program to celebrate his 60th birthday in the spring. In Europe, he also can be heard with the Berliner Philharmoniker; in recital in Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, and the UK; and on tour with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra conducted by Andris Nelsons. A tour in Asia with the London Symphony Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda brings the season to a close in June.
Mr. Bronfman has also given numerous solo recitals in the leading halls of North America, Europe, and Asia, including acclaimed debuts at Carnegie Hall in 1989 and Avery Fisher Hall (now David Geffen Hall) in 1993. In 1991, he gave a series of joint recitals with Isaac Stern in Russia, marking Mr. Bronfman's first public performances there since his immigration to Israel at age 15. That same year, he was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize, one of the highest honors given to American instrumentalists. Born in Tashkent in the Soviet Union, Yefim Bronfman immigrated to Israel with his family in 1973.