John H. B. Sanders was born on 19 January 1939 in Dallas, Texas. He grew up in a musically litterate home, and already at the age of 13, he started with what would become his greatest interest and passion in life; collecting records of classical music. In 1956 he graduated from college, and subsequently startede his musical studies. First at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachussets in 1956-57, then at New England Conservatory in Boston, USA in 1957-58.
In 1960 he decided to move to Norway after having spent his vacation there the year before. The first period, he was an employee in the bank Den Norske Creditbank in Oslo as well as performing as a cembalist and composer. In the course of his musicianship, he recorded a series of programmes featuring cembalo music. These programmes were broadcasted by The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation in 1967-68. After 8 years in banking business, he resigned his post to start his own establishment, the record shop Elysium in Oslo.
He declared his retail shop open on 19 December 1969. At that point, his own private collection contained about 5500 LP records, a collection that grew quickly in the years to come. Sanders specialized in retaining rare records that otherwise were hard to find in Norway at the time. He travelled a lot, and especially in the eastern part of Europe, he found many recordings not directly available in Western Europe. He had a rare gift of talking himself into the back rooms of the shops he visited, and by doing this, he acquired records not obtainable by ordinary customers.
Sanders had strong opinions on the interpretation of music, and he would not stock recordings he disliked because of poor performance quality. With this profile, he was a distinctive man in the musical life of Oslo, and there are lots of customers having received his advice and guidance into the field of classical music.
The music was Sanders domain. As a businessman he was not so successful, and from about 1987-88, the shop had to close. In 1994 he collapsed, and has since lived in an institution. He nevertheless occupied himself with his private record collection, which now had grown to about 50 000 records. In 2003 it was decided that the Sanders collection was to be placed at the Norwegian Institute of Recorded Sound, thus making sure it is taken care properly and made available to the general public. The Sanders collection is unique, and is complementary to the Dørumsgaard collection because the records are acquired through different agencies.
John Sanders died on March 16th, 2007 at the age of 68.