1911 - 1940
Jehan-Ariste Alain was born on 3 February 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 13 Jehan Alain was his father’s assistant as organist in his native town. At the Paris Conservatory he was the pupil of André Bloch, Georges Caussade, Paul Dukas, Roger Ducasse and Marcel Dupré. He won First Prizes for harmony, fugue, organ and improvisation. His Suite pour orgue was awarded a First Prize in the competition of the ‘Amis de l’orgue’ in 1936. In that same year he was appointed titular organist of Saint Nicolas in Maisons-Laffitte. Throughout his short life he never ceased to compose, for the piano, the organ, chamber music, voices (soloists and chorus), and the orchestra. His catalogue comprises some 140 works. His Litanies are in organists’ repertories the world over. Mobilised in 1939, he died in action in full creative maturity on 20 June 1940 in the defence of Saumur. He was 29 years old.