Friday, 20 July 2012

The Hyderabadi link of composer Zubin Mehta

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 19: Eminent composer Zubin Mehta was wowed by the “eye-opening” 
collection of arts and artifacts at the Salarjung Museum.

The director for life of Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was on a day’s private visit to 
the city. Accompanied by his wife Nancy Kovack, Zubin had a whirlwind tour of the history 
and culture of Hyderabad as he went round a few prominent historic places of the city. 
Zubin, who stayed at Taj Falaknuma, checked out later in the afternoon.

“What an eye-opening impression and education into the enormous good taste of Salarjung. 
World class collection and world class management,” Zubin Mehta wrote in the VIP 
visitors’ book, after spending about 45 minutes in Salarjung Museum. He later visited 
Purani Haveli and Chowmahalla Palace.

According to Salarjung Museum governing body member Zakir Hussain, Zubin Mehta was 
particularly attracted by the statues of Rebecca, and of Mephistopheles and Margaretta. 
The latter is a double statue with two different carving on either side. “Zubin sahib 
appreciated the vast collection of jade, weaponry, European paintings, the knife used by 
Queen Noorjahan and the swords of Aurangzeb and Shahjahan,” he said.

Zubin Mehta kept his visit in wraps and did not inform even the authorities at the 
Salarjung and the Chowmahalla. “He visited the palace as a common tourist. He was 
impressed by the architectural marvel of the palace,” G Kishen Rao, director of 
Chowmahalla Palace said.

According to sources, Zubin had enquired whether his father Mehli Mehta, a violinist and 
founding conductor of Bombay Symphony Orchestra, had performed before the Nizam. During 
the regimes of Nizam VI Mir Mahboob Ali Khan and Nizam VII Mir Osman Ali Khan, the 
Hyderabad State had a special department called, Arbab-e-Nisab, or the music wing.

“Mehli Mehta may have performed before the Nizam. The Arbab-e- Nisab had 108 employees 
including prominent musicians like Pandit Motiram, Pandit Maniram, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan 
and Aziz Ahmed Warsi. Though Mehli’s name did not figure in the list, he may have 
performed on special occasion, as he was a prominent violinist of his times,” city 
historian Dr Mohammad Safiullah said.

Officials of Taj Falaknuma accompanied Zubin and his wife to the historical places 
including the Salarjung museum.

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