Mart Sander

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Martin Laurent Sander
Mart Sander.jpg
Mart Sander
Born (1967-08-10) 10 August 1967 (age 49)
Tallinn, Estonia
Occupation Singer, actor, director, author
Years active 1985–present
Height 1.96 m (6 ft 5 in)

Martin Laurent Sander (born 10 August 1967 in Tallinn, Estonia) is an Estonian singer, actor, director, author, and television host.

Life and career[edit]

Sander began his musical education at the age of seven, studying violin at the Tallinn Music School, followed by terms at the State Choreography School, and the Estonian Music Academy where he majored in piano and conducting.[1] His career as a musician took off when he was seventeen, even though he had been cast in children's TV programs since the age of seven. At the age of nineteen, he and his swing orchestra Modern Fox won a major talent competition in Moscow, launching his career first in the Soviet Union and later in Scandinavia.[2]

Stage, film and television[edit]

Sander was a member of the Estonian National Opera from 1986–92.[1][3] Since the early 1990s, when Estonia regained its independence, Sander has performed in European venues in English-language comic operas (especially those of Gilbert and Sullivan) and Edwardian musical comedy, including principal roles in amateur productions at the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival.[4] He also sang the role of the Spanish Officer in a concert production of The Contrabandista in 2002 at Cheltenham, England, at the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society Festival, with professional soloists and the Cotswold Savoyards (the first modern professional performance of this comic opera)[5] and with orchestras such as Estonian Dream Big Band[6] and Wanemuine Symphony Orchestra, with whom he has performed at and hosted Andrew Lloyd Webber galas.[7]

Sander has appeared in several films, including Kallis härra Q (Dear Mister Moon) (Estonia, 1998) as Saara's and Sigrid's father, Senkiföldje (Parallel Lives) (Hungary/France, 1993) as a sympathetic Nazi,[8] and Iskelmäprinssi (Finland, 1991) as Martti, his first leading role. He has also directed three films, including 1992's Varas (The Thief)[9] and the controversial Berlin 1945: Musik Unter Bomben (2007), which was also shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 (Short Film Corner).[10]

In 1993 he appeared on American television for the first time in the made-for-cable movie Candles in the Dark, which starred Austrian actor Maximilian Schell and American actress Alyssa Milano.[11][12] Other TV appearances included Eurolaul (1993) and the TV series Tantsud tähtedega (Dancing with the Stars), which he hosts.[13] He also hosted Kissed By the Muse from 1990 to 1993[14] and Tähed muusikas (Stars in the Music) from 1997 to 2006 and again from 2008 to 2010.[15] Both Tantsud tähtedega and Tähed muusikas are aired on Estonia's Kanal 2 station.[16]

Sander meeting Queen Elizabeth II.

In 2004, Sander was featured in the BBC documentary Estonia Dreams of Eurovision! (directed by American filmmaker Marina Zenovich) about the preparations for the 2002 Eurovision Song Contest in which Estonia was the host nation.[17] Sander met Queen Elizabeth II during her state visit to Estonia in October 2006. In May 2008 he was featured as the celebrity guest in the Deal Or No Deal World Tour special on NBC[18]

In 2010, Sander returned to the Estonian National Opera, where he engaged as a producer and director. In 2011, his production of Die Czardasfürstin became a solid hit with the audience, as is his recent production of Ball im Savoy, which opened in January 2014.[19]

In 2012, Sander took the role of a judge in Eesti otsib superstaari, an Estonian version of Pop Idol.[20] Another major success was the program Su nägu kõlab tuttavalt (Your Face Sounds Familiar), a musical parody show, that premiered in April 2013 on TV3 and became an instant hit with the viewers. In 2014, he created a role in the TV movie The last round, which the cast also took to theatrical tour in 2015. Sander has often been compared to the American talk show host Conan O'Brien, based on both their physical resemblance as well as their razor sharp wit and wicked sense of humour.[21] To this Sander has characteristically replied that Conan is obviously imitating him, as his career has been lasting twice as long as that of Conan O'Brien (even though Conan O'Brien is older, Sander began his TV career at the age of 7).[22][23]

In 2015, Sander took his own one man horror drama Behind the Random Denominator (which he wrote, directed and starred in) to the lagest solo theatre festival United Solo in New York, earning him the Best Sound Design award. [24] The play was made a feature film in 2016, to be released internationally in 2017. [25]

Conducting and recording[edit]

In 2000, Sander helped establish, and began to conduct, the Tallinn-based Bel-Etage Concert Orchestra, which has performed many works of Edwardian musical comedy and several Gilbert and Sullivan operas.[26] In 2004, Sander and Bel-Etage released their first album in Great Britain entitled The Monckton Album, with selections from three musicals composed by Lionel Monckton, on the Divine Art Records label, receiving many favorable reviews and was a Gramophone magazine Critic's Choice 2004 selection.[27][28] Also in 2004, Bel-Etage songs from Edwardian musical comedies were featured on Brian Kay's BBC program. On another occasion, the same program dedicated an episode to his musical fantasy The Vaudevillains, composed and recorded in 2005.[29]

In 2005, Sander established the Swing Swindlers dance orchestra.[30] In 2005, the Swing Swindlers issued an album in the UK called Five-Fifteen: A Tribute to the BBC Dance Orchestra[31] Another album, released by Divine Art in 2012, The Finck Album, is dedicated to the music of British composer Herman Finck.[32] The Swing Swindlers has released 12 albums of swing music and 3 albums of theatre and concert music.[33]

Writing and painting[edit]

Sander has written novels in English: Mercator, published in 1994[34] and Lux Gravis, 2008, as well as a collection of short stories, Z, The Terminal Letter, 2005.[35] In 2013, a controversial play about the mysterious death of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, titled The Swan Prince was published by Pilgrim Books. In 2015, he finished an epic 700-page novel titled The Goddess of the Devil about Maria Orsic, the medium of the Vril Society who stood close to Adolf Hitler and the elite of the Third Reich, shaping many of their decisions. His 2015 play Behind the Random Denominator had its world premiere on August 3, 2015 and was presented to New York audience on Broadway in September, later touring USA and Canada.[36] Also, on August 1, 2015, his newest novel Bitches, the first book in trilogy, was published by Ajakirjade Kirjastus, one of the largest publishing companies in Estonia, to critical acclaim.[37] It became an immediate national best-seller, peaking at number one at the two largest book wholesalers Apollo and Rahva Raamat, holding this position for four weeks.[38] The book was nominated for the 2016 European Union Prize for Literature. Part two was published in October 2016 to great acclaim. The series is currently being filmed for TV. He wrote and illustrated his first children's book Christmas Truce, which was published in December 2015.[39]

Sander is also an accomplished painter and had his first exhibition (copies of old masters) at the Estonian State Art Museum in spring 2006.[40] His first solo exhibition took place in Tallinn in July and August 2008,[41] followed by similar exhibitions in 2009 and 2010.[42] He opened his first art gallery in 2007 and moved into larger premices in the center of Tallinn in 2011. In 2010 he painted Madonna upon her concert in Tallinn.[43] He has also portrayed composers Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Arvo Pärt. When Tallinn was selected as the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2011, the Estonian Ministry of Culture issued a wall calendar featuring twelve Sander's paintings of Tallinn's old town. In 2012, Sander's art gallery was involved in a case involving art forgeries; charges were brought against one of the assistants working in the gallery.[44][45] On the day of the alleged End of the World (Dec.21, 2012), his exhibition – Appocalypse Formula – opened in Tallinn.[46] In December 2013, his art book The Stories Of Great Composers, which he wrote and illustrated, became a Christmas best seller.[47] In 2014, he was a finalist in Art Renewal Centre’s annual salon competition.[48]

In September 2014, the leading (and oldest) Estonian newspaper Postimees (The Postman) chose Sander as the number one multitalented person in Estonia[49]

Sander is Roman Catholic and a Knight of the Order of St. Stanislaus.[3]

Self Portrait As A Disappointed Artist, 2010.
Portrait of Madonna, 2010.
The Whore, 2010 (Portrait of Liis Flack).
Urban Hunter II, 2013.


  1. ^ a b Sander's website
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ a b Mart Sander biography at Fancast, Comcast Interactive Media, LLC (2008)
  4. ^ Review of Sander in a role at the Festival
  5. ^ Sir Arthur Sullivan Society Magazine, No. 55, Autumn 2002, pp. 2–3
  6. ^ Article noting Sander's performance with EDBB at Filharmoonia
  7. ^ Hirv, Tui. EPL article on Andrew Lloyd Webber gala concert, 31 July 2006
  8. ^ Article about Parallel Lives (in Estonian)
  9. ^ Koduvald: Vihma käest telestuudiosse jõululauluvõistlusele
  10. ^ Clip of the film Berlin 1945
  11. ^ Candles in the Dark, review from Variety
  12. ^ Cast and crew list of Candles in the Dark at Fancast
  13. ^ Mart Sander at the Internet Movie Database
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ Tähed muusikas at Postimees
  16. ^ Kanal 2
  17. ^ Ralske, Josh. Estonia Dreams of Eurovision, The New York Times review from Allmovie
  18. ^ .
  19. ^ September 2011
  20. ^ et:Eesti otsib superstaari
  21. ^ Article about Su nägu kõlab tuttavalt (in Estonian)
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ [3]
  25. ^ [4]
  26. ^ Bel-Etage official website
  27. ^ Reviews of the Monckton album at the Divine Art Website
  28. ^ Lamb, Andrew "The melody man long-neglected at home finds some champions in Estonia", The Gramophone, October 2004 (subscription required)
  29. ^ Archive of Brian Kay's BBC program, BBC Radio3
  30. ^ Swing Swindlers at the Divine Art website
  31. ^ Review of Swing Swindlers' album Five-Fifteen at
  32. ^ Täisinfovorm discography
  33. ^ [5]
  34. ^ Sander, Mart with contributor Tõnu Sikk. Mercator: 2 novelli, (1994) Underwelt ISBN 9985-60-027-4
  35. ^ Sander, Mart with contributors Deirdre Kincaid and Arthur Kincaid. Z, the Terminal Letter: Short Stories, (2005) Martin & Martin ISBN 9949-10-865-9
  36. ^ [6]
  37. ^ [7]
  38. ^ [8]
  39. ^ [9]
  40. ^ "Mitmekülgne Mart Sander loob vaimustusega" at the Postimees website
  41. ^ "Mart Sander – Personaalnäitus 2008", Sander's paintings at Galerii24
  42. ^ Newsreel: The opening of Mart Sander's personal exhibition
  43. ^ [10]
  44. ^ "Võltsija teada? Sander kommenteerib: tal oli juurdepääs, tingimused ning aeg", Delfi, 6 October 2012 (in Estonian)
  45. ^ "Mart Sanderi galerii võltsis oksjoni jaoks maale", Eesti Päevaleht, 25 September 2012 (in Estonian)
  46. ^ [11] at website
  47. ^ [12]
  48. ^ [13]
  49. ^

External links[edit]