Receiving his early artistic inspiration from his parents, Stefan Sanderling studied at the Leipzig Conservatory with Kurt Masur. He then moved to the United States to continue his studies at the University of Southern California. While in the United States, he also attended the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute, winning several awards, and at Tanglewood, where he worked with Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Leonard Slatkin and Yuri Termikanov. In Europe and around the world, he is a household name having conducted many fine orchestras including: the London Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Mozarteum Orchestra (Salzburg), Prague Symphony, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Staatskapelle Dresden, Berliner Staatskapelle, NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg, Bamberg Symphony, Vienna Radio Symphony, Berliner Sinfonie Orchester and the Orchestra of the Beethovenhalle Bonn among many others.
He has also guest conducted the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Komische Oper Berlin. During the past several seasons he made his debuts in Australia with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and in Japan with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. His highly successful debut with the NHK Symphony of Tokyo resulted in an immediate re-engagement with that orchestra for the 2003-04 season. He also appears with the Osaka Philharmonic, the New Jersey Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the Kansas City Symphony, the Omaha Symphony, the Eastern Music Festival and the Grand Teton Festival Orchestra in the 03-04 season.