• Short Summary

    The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra departs this week (19.8) on a tour of 10 European countries (inc 5 festivals) -- one of Israel's outstanding goodwill ambassadors.

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    Sound quality bad on rehearsal/music scenes. Visuals OK.

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra departs this week (19.8) on a tour of 10 European countries (inc 5 festivals) -- one of Israel's outstanding goodwill ambassadors. The orchestra's director and conductor, Zubin Mehta, is from India, and came to Israel as a guest conductor at the age of 25. Who named last year as the conductor of the New York Philharmonic, he insisted on being allowed time off to continue directing the Isr Orchestra. (more dope in attached material)
    Shows Mehta conducting a concert of "Tosca" -- the soloists are Nicole Lorange and Blas Martinez.

    Rehearsing intvu w/ Mehta Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" first section the "Hungarina Dance" end Finale, act IV
    It was the dream of Bronislaw Huberman that the Orchestra would be a goodwill ambassador abroad.

    Thus, no later than two weeks after its first performance, the Orchestra embarked on its maiden tour - to Egypt. Toscanini conducted.

    Huberman had envisaged the Philharmonic as a mobile unit that would bring its music to all of the Middle East. A number of tours were made to Egypt and Lebanon. During the war years the ensemble played 168 concerts for allied troops based in these countries and in Palestine. But after the 1945-48 Season, political tension in the region made further performances int he neighbouring countries impossible. It remains a hope of the Orchestra that it will once again undertake cultural exchanges and that the time is not far off when its music will again be welcome in Egypt and in all Israel's neighbour-States.

    Mobile indeed from the start, the late U.S. Ambassador Monnett B. Davis called the Orchestra, "Israel's best Ambassador abroad".

    In 1951, the musicians undertook their first major international tour, to the United States and Canada. Kousse-vitzky and Bornstein directed. The first tour of Europe took place in 1955 with Klecki and Paray. In 1960, the Orchestra made its first globe-circling trip, playing in France, the United State, Canada, Mexico, Japan and India. Carlo Maria Giulini was chief conductor, Josef Krips was guest conductor and Gary Bertini served as associate conductor. In 1966, it toured Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong with Mehta, Dorati and Eliahu Inbal.

    After the Six Day War, the Orchestra set off on an unscheduled tour of North America, playing 21 concerts in 16 cities in a period of one month for the benefit of the Israel Emergency Fund.

    As part of Israel's 20th Anniversary celebration in 1968, the IPO made a tour to England, and on the way home played three concerts at the Vienna Music Festival.

    In 1969 the IPO was invited to participate in the Maggio Musicale in Florence. Italy, and made an extended tour of Italy during June of that year.

    In 1971, the IPO appeared at most of the major European Festivals. Salzburg, Lucerne, Edinburgh, Berlin, Planders, Stresa, Venice, as well as in London. Conductors were Mehta, Krips and Kertesz. The soloists included Arthus Rubinstein. Daniel Barenboim, Yehudi Menuhin and Pinchas Zukerman.

    Under the baton of Maestro Zubin Mehta, the touring Israel Philharmonic displayed its collective talent in South America in 1972. Following that, it returned to scenes of earlier successes in Mexico, the United States, Canada and England. Soloists included Arthur Rubinstein. Gregor Piatigorsky. Itzhak Perlman, Daniel Barenboim and members of the Orchestra. The repertoire included two Israeli compositions.

    After the Yom Kippur War. The IPO made a goodwill visit to England and Holland expressing gratitude to the people of Holland for their support.

    The year 1974 found the Orchestra playing in both hemispheres. In August the Orchestra performed for the first time in South Africa under the sponsorship of the South African Zionist Federation.

    Later the same year, the Orchestra toured the United States under the auspices of the United Jewish Appeal, its concerts used as the focal point of the New Year's campaign.

    In 1975 the Orchestra once again made two trips abroad. The first was a tour of Great Britain with a gala concert in London with Arthur Rubinstein as soloist. This concert was sponsored by the Royal Philharmonic Society. After London the Orchestra gave two concerts in Europe, one in Geneva with Pinchas Zukerman as soloist and the other in Paris, again with Arthur Rubinstein joining the Orchestra in a gala evening sponsored by the friends of The Weizmann Institute in France.

    The summer brought the Orchestra back to Europe to fulfil invitations from the leading festivals in Europe. From Salzburg to Lucerne, to Edinburgh to Berlin, with concerts in Copenhagen and Sweden enroute. The Orchestra also toured six cities in Germany, gave five concerts in Italy, including three at La Scala, and ended the tour at the Musikverein in Vienna. It was a triumphant tour for the Orchestra and its Music Director, Zubin Mehta, and the soloists who joined the ensemble in some of the concerts. Among the soloists were Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Janet Baker, Pischer-Dieskau, Daniel Benyamini, Uri Pianka and Alfred Brendel.

    In the summer of 1976, the IPO was chosen to represent the State of Israel at the Bicentennial Celebrations in the U.S.

    However, the Orchestra's main 30th Anniversary Celebration took place abroad in August with a major tour of the American continents. Zubin Mehta and Leonard Bernstein conducted the IPO in the U.S.A (Washington, D.C. and New York), and Eduardo Mata, Eliahu Inbal and Charles Dutoit in Mexico and Brazil, (Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo). The soloists included the pianists Alicia de Larrocha and Yefim Bronfman, and the violinists Ida Haendel and Silvia Marcovici, also the cellist, Mischa Maisky.

    The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra has a basic strength of 110 musicians compared tot he 70 at its inception. Sixty members were born and/or trained in Israel.

    The original musicians were recruited from all over Europe, but mostly from Germany, Poland and Palestine. They came from different backgrounds and spoke different tongues. Today, they all speak Hebrew. Among the members are 12 women. In the last few years, over 25 new immigrants from Russia have joined the Orchestra.

    The home of the IPO is the 3000-seat Fredric R. Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv. There are more than 32,000 subscribers to the Orchestra - an amazing patronage considering Israel's population of approximately three million. Thirteen different series are required to meet the ticket demand. Eight series each are presented in Tel Aviv. In Jerusalem there is one series. Haifa has 4 series.

    In addition, there is a light classical music series (6 concerts), a series of five performances for youth, and a series of "Musica Viva" for students and lovers of contemporary music. The IPO also brings its music to kibbutzim and small towns throughout Israel and gives free concerts to the country's servicemen.

    The IPO established (in co-operation with the Tel-Aviv Academy of Music) a special youth orchestra as a training ground for future IPO members. Lately, the IPO has embarked on a series of open-air concerts, held in the city square for tens of thousands of citizens.

    The IPO covers about 70% of its budget from the sale of tickets, while allocations from the Israel Government and the America-Israel Cultural Foundation help cover part of the deficit.

    The IPO plays an average of 11 concerts each fortnight. Programmes are built on the standard masterworks as well as on contemporary compositions, including works by Israeli composers.

    The great conductors came over the years to lead the Orchestra. Among them were Toscanini, Koussevitzky, Munch, Bernstein, Paray, Von Weingartner, Ormandy, Steinberg, Sargent, Mitropoulos, Barbirolli, Monteux and many others including Israeli conductors and soloists.

    The rotation of guest conductors and outstanding world famous soloists like Rubinstein, Piatigorsky, Stern, Arrau, Casals, and many others throughout the years has made the Orchestra "wonderfully elastic", in the words of one expert.

    Zubin Mehta has been Music Director for the last ten years, and under his direction, the Orchestra added a style of its own to its proven adaptability.

    The IPO is deeply rooted in the soil of Israel. It has been the centre of all musical endeavour in the country. In addition to the music it brings to the public in numerous series and special programmes, it also provides opportunities for gifted young musicians. Aid is given through annual scholarships for undergraduate and postgraduate training. Its members are among the leading music teachers in the country. The Orchestra commissions new works which are presented both is Israel and abroad.

    The IPO is a popular tourist attraction, and abroad, its tours and recordings have brought a part of Israel's artistic achievements to thousands of music-lovers.

    Z U B I N M E H T A
    (Music Director)
    Zubin Mehta became the Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in October 1969. He assumed the post of Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in September 1978, after sixteen years as Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. His association with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, however, dates back to 1961 when he first arrived in Israel as Guest Conductor.

    Zubin Mehta was born in Bombay, India. There he received his early musical training from his father, Mehli Mehta, first concertmaster and later conductor of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra. He began studying the violin and piano at seven, and when he was sixteen began conducting concerto accompaniments for his father.

    Despite his early training in music, Zubin Mehta, at one period entered medical school, but abandoned that plan soon after. After deciding to resume music, Mehta left Bombay for Vienna where he studied piano, composition, string bass and conducting at the Academy of Music while playing in various orchestras. In 1967 he was graduated with a diploma in conducting.

    The following year Mehta began conducting the orchestra of the Musikverein in Vienna, and in the same year he went to Liverpool, England, to enter the first international conductor's competition; he won First Prize over a hundred other contestants.

    Substituting for Eugene Ormandy, Mehta became the youngest conductor lead the Vienna Philharmonic, and he was then the youngest man in history to conduct the berlin Philharmonic. At 25 he was invited to conduct the then 25-year-old Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and was invited to return every year, at least until their mutual 50th birthday.

    Many important guest conducting engagements followed, including his first appearances in Los Angeles in 1961, conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Mr. Mehta was engaged the following year as Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, thus becoming, at 20, the Los Angeles Philharmonic's youngest permanent conductor. The year before he had been signed as Music Director of the Montreal Symphony, making him the only music director of two symphony orchestras in North America.

    With his acceptance of the directorship of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra he gave up his post with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, but continues his work with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

    He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the George Williams University of Montreal. The Indian government bestowed upon him the "Padma Bhyshan" (Order of the Lotus), the highest cultural award given in India to people of outstanding accomplishment in the arts and sciences. In 1968 Occidental College awarded Mehta an Honorary Doctor of Music degree. He also received an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree from Tel Aviv University, in 1974.


    The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was officially founded in 1936 by the eminent violinist, Bronislaw Huberman, whose dream was to bring to the Middle East the universal language of music in the form of a full symphony orchestra. This was realised, and the first concert took place in a make-shift hall in Tel Aviv on December 26, 1936.

    In the newly-assembled Orchestra were some of Europe's finest musicians, Jewish players who had fled Nazi oppression in Europe. Arturo Toscanini came to conduct the opening concerts. His appearance was both a voice of protest against fascism, and an encouragement to the young Orchestra.

    Though in existence for over forty years, a short period when compared to the venerable histories of European and American orchestras, the IPO has maintained the standards and activities of an internationally-recognised symphonic body ever since its inception.

    Its home, Israel, is perhaps one of the smallest countries in the world with an orchestra of this standing, and yet is a country which has not experienced one day of peace since its re-establishment in 1948. Against its continuous background of turmoil and insecurity, the Orchestra has functioned uninterruptedly throughout the Arab riots of 1939; World War II; the 1948-49 War of Independence; the Sinai Campaign; the Six-Day War; and the Yom Kippur War.

    The IPO's first tour took place two weeks after it presented its first concerts in Tel Aviv in 1936. This Tour, under Toscanini's baton, took the Orchestra to Egypt. Bronislaw Huberman had envisioned the Orchestra as a mobile unit that would bring its music to all the Middle East.

    Since then, the Arab countries have not permitted such a cultural exchange to take place, but it remains the Orchestra's hope that the time is not far off when its music will once again be welcomed in Egypt and in all the neighbouring countries.

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