Born in 1912 in Arys, Prussia (today's Orzysz, Poland) Kurt Sanderling emigrated to the USSR in 1936 because of his Jewish origins, one year after the Nuremberg laws. In Russia, he associates with the greatest figures of contemporary music. Thanks to his friendship with Evgeny Mravinsky, he rapidly becomes his assistant at the Leningrad Orchestra. A close friend of Dmitri Shostakovich, Kurt Sanderling conducts the composer's main symphonies, which he also records.
In 1960, the authorities of the Soviet Union allow him to go back to Germany, after 24 years of exile. He becomes principal conductor of the Berliner Sinfonie-Orchester for over 17 years.
From then on, he is in very high demand among the prestigious orchestras worldwide, and becomes guest conductor later in in his career in Los Angeles, London and elsewhere. The last decade of his life, Kurt Sanderling retires from the musical scene, except for a few performance in Berlin, his city of predilection.
Kurt Sanderling dies in Berlin on September 18, 2011, one day before his 99th birthday.