Jehan Alain: Biography

Jehan Alain was born on February 3, 1911 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye near Paris, into a musical family. His father, Albert Alain (1880-1971), a pupil of Guilmant and Vierne, was an organist and a composer of religious music. His brother, Olivier, and his two sisters, Marie-Odile and Marie-Claire were also to become musicians and organists. From the age of thirteen, Jehan Alain was his father's assistant as organist in his native town. At the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, he was the pupil of André Bloch, Georges Caussade, Paul Dukas, Roger Ducasse and Marcel Dupré. He won first prizes for harmony, counterpoint and fugue, organ and improvisation. His Suite pour orgue was awarded a first prize in composition in the competition of Les Amis de l'Orgue in 1936. In that same year, he was appointed titular organist of Saint-Nicolas in Maisons-Laffite. Throughout his short life he never ceased to compose for the piano, the organ, chamber music and voices (soloists and choirs) and the orchestra. His catalog comprises some 120 works. His Litanies are in organists' repertory the world over. Mobilised in 1939, in full creativity, he died in action on June 20, 1940 in the defence of Saumur. He was twenty-nine years old.