Kurt 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.”
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Photo credit: Associated Press