Classical music conductor Zubin Mehta took a final bow on Sunday after leading the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra for more than 50 years, a record tenure for a full orchestra. Mehta, who was born in Mumbai, apologized to the audience that among “all the things I was able to achieve in the past 50 years, there is one thing I could not accomplish: I cannot speak Hebrew. I am sorry for that. Let me express it with music now,” he said before conducting a piano concerto by Liszt and the second symphony by Gustav Mahler, also known as “Resurrection.” As a special surprise to the longest-serving conductor, pianist Yefim Bronfman was joined on stage by Lahav Shani, who will take up his position as IPO music director at the start of the 2020-2021 season. The two played “Slavonic Dances” by Dvorak. The historical performance ended with members of the orchestra throwing flowers on Mehta and his wife, US actress Nancy Kovack. The two were awarded with garlands by the CEO of the philharmonic, Avi Shoshani. Mehta, who announced his intention to retire in December 2016, holds a series of awards and distinctions, among them the 1991 Israel Prize and the 2007 Dan David Award. He also served as the conductor of the New York Philharmonic from 1978 to 1991. Mehta had come to Israel by chance in 1961 to step in for Eugene Ormandy, who due to illness had been unable to fulfill his commitment. The orchestra played so well that Mehta was invited to return in 1963, and again in 1965. He became music adviser to the IPO in 1969 and was appointed music director in 1977. Greer Fay Cashman and Natan Rothstein contributed to this report.