The Film Music Society FMS FEATURE ARTICLE...

June 6, 2003
Al Sendrey Dead at 91
by Phil Grayson

Albert Sendrey, one of Hollywood's top arranger-orchestrators for many years, died May 18 at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif. He was 91.

Sendrey contributed to more than 170 films as both an arranger and orchestrator – often without screen credit – including such M-G-M musicals as Bathing Beauty (1944), A Date With Judy (1948), Easter Parade (1948), Neptune's Daughter (1949), An American in Paris (1951) and High Society (1956).

He composed the music for Fred Astaire's dancing-on-the-ceiling routine in Royal Wedding (1951), his friend and fellow composer Scott Harper told the Los Angeles Times. Other film assignments as arranger or orchestrator included The Yearling (1946), Guys and Dolls (1955), Ride the High Country (1962), The Oscar (1966), Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) and Finian's Rainbow (1968).

Sendrey orchestrated the music for the celebrated 1956 television production of the Broadway musical Peter Pan starring Mary Martin.

Sendrey composed many scores for television in the 1960s, including assignments for the Revue/Universal westerns Wagon Train, Riverboat and Laramie. He orchestrated episodes of Ben Casey, The High Chaparral, The Monroes, and S.W.A.T., as well as documentaries for producer David L. Wolper.

Sendrey was born in 1911 in Chicago, the son of composer, conductor and musicologist Aladar Szendrei. He studied at the Leipzig Conservatory, Paris Conservatory and Trinity College of Music in London; he also studied conducting with Sir John Barbirolli. His first movie score was for a French film, Remous (Whirlpool, 1934), and he went on to orchestrate several early Miklos Rozsa scores including Thief of Bagdad (1940), That Hamilton Woman (1941) and The Jungle Book (1942).

Sendrey worked regularly in Las Vegas during the 1950s, composing production numbers for the Riviera and Sands Hotels, and often working as pianist, conductor and arranger for such vocalists as Tony Martin, Donald O'Connor, Ray Bolger, Jane Powell, Marlene Dietrich and Howard Keel.

Although he was best-known for his Hollywood film work, Sendrey composed extensively for the concert hall with three symphonies, a ballet, many chamber pieces and other orchestral works. His songs included "Love Dreams," "Are You Comin' to the Fair" and "I'm in a Rare Sort of Mood."

Survivors include five children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.