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Sanderling was born in Arys, East Prussia on 19 September 1912. From 1942 to 1960 he was joint principal conductor with Evgeny Mravinsky at the Leningrad Philharmonic, and then led the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and Dresden Staatskapelle. During the 1960s Sanderling made successful appearances in Prague, Salzburg, Vienna and Warsaw, and made his British debut in 1970, becoming particularly associated with the Philharmonia in January 1980, and was later appointed their Conductor Emeritus. He conducted the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in 1976 in a sequence of outstanding performances which led to subsequent appearances with the orchestra in 1978, 1980 and 1990. During the 1990s Sanderling enjoyed a distinguished international career, giving notable performances with the Royal Amsterdam Concertgebouw, LA Philharmonic Orchestra, Bavarian Radio and Cleveland orchestras.
Sanderling appears to have recorded 'Ein Heldenleben' on the obscure Japanese Weitblick label from 1972 though it is not known if this is still available. Notwithstanding, this Manchester live recording with the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra preserves Sanderling's wonderful performance in Manchester's Free Trade Hall on 30th September 1975 in excellent stereo. In April 1978, Sanderling returned to Manchester and conducted the BBCNSO once again, this time under studio conditions in Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, Sanderling's ONLY published account of this work, again in excellent stereo.
Leader Barry Griffiths recalls Sanderling in rehearsal as being 'very easy going and extremely pleasant to work with. He was very relaxed and humorous. As far as performance was concerned: 'He gave us the impression that he thought we were a great orchestra and as a result he got the absolute most out of us. In performance he was always in command but never tense. This was the first time that I had played the solo part in Heldenleben in public, and he helped me all the way through.'
Richard Strauss: Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life), Op. 40, TrV 190
Der Held (The Hero)
Des Helden Widersacher (The Hero's Enemies)
Des Helden Gefahrtin (The Hero's Companion)
Des Helden Walstatt (The Hero's Field of Battle)
Des Helden Friedenswerke (The Hero's Works of Peace)
Des Helden Weltflucht und Vollendung (The Hero's Withdrawal from the World)
Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759, "Unfinished"