Los Angeles Philharmonic / Music News & Info: Classical

RIP Kurt Sanderling

Kurt SanderlingKurt Sanderling, prominent conductor in Eastern Europe before and after World War II, principal conductor of the Berlin Symphony from 1960-1977, and later a frequent guest with major European and American orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, has died at the age of 98.  He was two days away from his 99th birthday.

During the interregnum between the music directorships of Andre Previn and Esa-Pekka Salonen, he took the LA Phil on a two-week tour of Europe.  The 1991 concerts were very well regarded, most particularly for Mr. Sanderling’s interpretation of Shostakovich.  At the end of the tour, the LA Phil’s Principal Trumpet, Thomas Stevens, told the Los Angeles Times:  “He is really a great presence and is totally in charge. He was thorough in his rehearsals, uncompromising. So in terms of preparation we were maybe in better shape than we have ever been.”

The Guardian states that:

The verdict of players in all the British orchestras he conducted, including the BBC Symphony, the BBC Philharmonic (or BBC Northern Symphony, as it then was), remained the same: a Sanderling concert was always an event, the conductor a rare figure to be respected – and permitted to talk at length about his point of view – by otherwise unimpressible musicians.

Finally, Mrs. CKDH remembers a story told by Jeffrey Reynolds, retired bass trombone of the LA Phil who frequently gave pre-concert lectures, about a rehearsal where Maestro Sanderling described the difference between Germans and Russians:

  • “When Germans are sad, Russians are very sad”
  • “When Germans are very sad, Russians are very very sad.”
  • “When Germans are very very sad, Russians are very very happy.”

Complete obituaries from:



Photo credit:  Associated Press

2 thoughts on “RIP Kurt Sanderling

  1. What a great conductor. His music-making b-r-e-a-t-h-e-d, if you get my drift. Wonderful anecdote about Germans and Russians. His legacy will be much more appreciated as time goes on, that is unless the barbarians take over completely.


  2. Pingback: A leisurely chat with cellist Daniel Rothmuller (part 1 of 2): the LA Phil’s former Associate Principal shares his stories, opinions, and post-retirement plans « All is Yar

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.