Vienna Philharmonic honours Indian conductor Mehta

The prestigious Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra on Saturday paid homage in an emotional ceremony to 75-year-old Indian conductor Zubin Mehta, celebrating 50 years of musical collaboration.

In the orchestra's historic Musikverein hall, a visibly moved Mehta recalled how he had carried out his musical studies - initially as a double-bassist - in the Austrian capital.

"Vienna was and remains my musical barometer," Mehta said, recalling how as a poor student he had "sneaked in" to the Musikverein without paying to stand and watch performances.

During the ceremony Mehta was praised by Argentinian-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim, who took to the piano for the occasion, by the director of the Vienna State Opera, Frenchman Dominique Meyer, and by the chairman of the Vienna Philharmonic, Austrian violinist and conductor Clemens Hellsberg.

Hellsberg noted that Mehta had conducted the Philharmonic no fewer than 293 times and that only two other conductors - German Bruno Walter and Austrian Herbert von Karajan, both deceased - had also reached 50 years of collaboration with the orchestra.

The orchestra's musicians paid homage to Mehta with a concert of works by Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert, Richard Strauss, Giuseppe Verdi and Joaquin Rodrigo.