Jehan Ariste Alain (3 February 1911 – 20 June 1940) was the son of organist Albert Alain (1880–1971) who had studied with Alexandre Guilmant and Louis Vierne. His younger brother was the composer, organist and pianist Olivier Alain (1918–1994), his youngest sister the organist Marie-Claire Alain (1926–2013). Between 1927 and 1939, he attended the Paris Conservatoire and achieved First Prize in Harmony under André Bloch and First Prize in Fugue with Georges Caussade. He studied the organ with Marcel Dupré, under whose direction he took first prize for Organ and Improvisation in 1939. His studies in composition with Paul Dukas and Jean Roger-Ducasse won him the Prix des amis de l'orgue in 1936 for his Suite for Organ Op. 48, Introduction, Variations, Scherzo and Choral.
He was appointed organist of Saint-Nicholas de Maisons Laffitte in Paris in 1935, and remained there for four years.
His short career as a composer began in 1929, when Alain was 18, and lasted until the outbreak of the Second World War 10 years later. His music was influenced not only by the musical language of the earlier Claude Debussy and his contemporary Olivier Messiaen (seen in "Le jardin suspendu,"1934), but also by an interest in the music, dance and philosophies of the far east.
Always interested in mechanics, Alain was a skilled motorcyclist and became a dispatch rider in the Eighth Motorised Armour Division of the French Army. On 20 June 1940, he was assigned to reconnoitre the German advance on the eastern side of Saumur, and encountered a group of German soldiers at Le Petit-Puy. Coming around a curve, and hearing the approaching tread of the Germans, he abandoned his motorcycle and engaged the enemy troops with his carbine, killing 16 of them before being killed himself.
He left behind his wife, Madeleine Payan whom he had married in 1935, & three children.
Score is attached below, as well as 2 photos of Alain, & several of St. Nicholas Church.
Performance notes in FIRST COMMENT.