Alfred Sendrey

Singer, composer & researcher

Musician, conductor and musicologist Alfred Sendrey was born in 1884 in Budapest, Hungary. He received his formal musical education at the Academy of Music in Budapest. After completing his degree in 1905, Sendrey began a successful conducting career across Europe and America, holding posts in Cologne (1905-07), Mülhausen (1907-09), Brno (1908-11), Hamburg (1912-13), New York (Century Opera Company, 1913-14), Berlin-Charlottenburg (1914-16), Vienna (Volksoper, 1916-18) and Leipzig (Oper Theater 1918-24 and Symphony Orchestra 1930-32). While conducing in Leipzig, Sendrey was accepted to pursue his PhD in Musicology at the Universität Leipzig. 

In 1933, Sendrey accepted a position as the director of the Central German Radio in Berlin, and taught simultaneously at the Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatory. In response to the increase of anti-Semitic policy and propaganda in Berlin, Sendrey and his family moved to Paris, where he took a position as director of Radiodiffusion Nationale (1933-1940). After seven years in Paris, the Sendrey family immigrated to New York. Shortly after settling in there, Sendrey was invited by Abraham Binder to teach at the 92nd Street YMCA. 

While teaching at the YMCA, he worked tirelessly to amass a comprehensive bibliographical resource for Jewish Music. This project was aided by Joseph Yasser, Curt Sachs, Salo W. Baron, and Ethel Silverman-Cohen. The manuscript was submitted to Columbia University Press in 1943, but its official publication was delayed until 1951. In the meantime, Sendrey took up residence in Los Angeles, where he joined the faculty of the Westlake College of Music (1945-52). The editing process for the Bibliography of Jewish Music was slow and laborious. Continual attempts to update the manuscript with new publications contributed by Israeli musicians and musicologists extended the project considerably.  

In 1952, Sendrey accepted a position as musical director of the Fairfax Synogogue (1952-56), and then at the Sinai Temple (1956-64).  While still on staff at the Sinai Temple, he was named Professor of Jewish Music at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, the newly established West Coast campus of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (1962-72). During his time at the University of Judaism, Sendrey published two additional major works, Music in Ancient Israel (1969), and The Music of the Jews in the Diaspora (up to 1800) (1970).  After his official retirement, Sendrey began work on another study, Music in the Social and Religious Life of Antiquity (1974), which was published on his ninetieth birthday. 

Aside from conducting and teaching, Sendrey was also a recognized composer. His corpus includes a full-scale opera, several orchestral works, chamber music, and art songs. Later in life, while working as the musical director of the Fairfax Synagogue and the Sinai Temple, Sendrey also composed several works for Synagogue worship.