Stefan Sanderling's father, now 91 and retired in Berlin, was a relatively unknown quantity in the West. For almost 20 years, he was co-conductor with Yevgeny Mravinsky of the Leningrad Philharmonic, a great orchestra seldom heard outside the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In 1960, Sanderling went back to his native Germany to be music director of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Communist rival of the mighty Berlin Philharmonic of West Germany.
Trombonist Dudley Bright played under Sanderling for about 20 years. Bright was a member of London's Philharmonia Orchestra when Sanderling was a frequent guest conductor. He marvels at his durability.
Edel Classics released [Kurt Sanderling]: Legendary Recordings, a 15-CD set that includes performances of Shostakovich, Sibelius and Mahler by the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. Harmonia Mundi's five-CD Sanderling set has Mozart's C-minor Piano Concerto, with soloist Mitsuko Uchida, and Schumann's Fourth Symphony from the conductor's final concert in Berlin.