Obituary: Conductor Kurt Sanderling, 98

Posted on: September 20, 2011

In Monday’s (9/19) Los Angeles Times, Mary Rourke writes, “Kurt Sanderling, who led the Leningrad Philharmonic and the East Berlin Symphony Orchestra under Soviet rule and won admirers in the West later in his career as a guest conductor for orchestras in London, Los Angeles and elsewhere, has died. He was 98. … He was a sensitive interpreter of the symphonies of Dmitri Shostakovich, a personal friend whose music echoed life in the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin. … ‘Kurt Sanderling was a great conductor but too few people knew that because he spent so much time in East Germany and Russia,’ Ernest Fleischmann, chief executive of the Los Angeles Philharmonic when Sanderling first performed with the orchestra in 1984, once observed. ‘He played all the basic repertoire … as though it had been composed yesterday,’ Fleischmann, who died last year, told the St. Petersburg Times in a 2003 interview. ‘Very few conductors are able to do that.’ … In 1941 the [Leningrad Philharmonic] premiered the Seventh Symphony of Shostakovich. The composer was often out of favor with the government for what his critics called ‘coarse, vulgar’ music, Sanderling later recalled. … All of Sanderling’s sons became professional musicians. Stefan is music director of the Florida Orchestra in Tampa Bay. Thomas leads the Russian National Orchestra, and Michael is a conductor in Germany.”

Posted September 20, 2011