Over the course of this legendary partnership, Mehta and the Orchestra have had many adventures and triumphs. The first came in 1967 when the Six Day War caused the scheduled conductor to withdraw from his engagement. Mehta, then in the US, regarded this as a musical crisis and hopped an ammunition-filled plane to Tel Aviv. He conducted the performance with soloists Daniel Barenboim and Jacqueline du Pré and then had to stay in the basement of the concert hall with the musicians for the next six days. Barenboim and du Pré were married in Jerusalem soon after.
The conductor also dropped everything to rush to Israel as the first Gulf War flared in 1991, performing to full halls as Scud missiles flew overhead and some of the audience came with gas masks. Nobody could question Mehta’s commitment to his orchestra and Israel, a respect that it mirrored by their audience’s loyalty.
Mehta’s conviction that music can bring peace and mutual understanding has created indelible moments: 500 Jewish and Palestinian refugee children singing together in the neutral territory of the Jerusalem YMCA, the IPO joining members of the Bavarian State Orchestra at the Buchenwald concentration camp to perform Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony, the Orchestra’s first tour of Poland, and a performance of Israel’s national anthem, ‘Hatikhva’, in Berlin.