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Jehan - Ariste Alain
1911 - 1940
France
Picture Picture
J.A. Alain
Jehan Alain (03/02/1911 - 20/06/1940), a French composer (born in St-Germain-en-Laye). Brother of the famous organist Marie-Claire Alain (10/08/1926). Born into a family of musicians, he learned the organ from his father and a host of other teachers, becoming a composer at 18, and composing until the outbreak of the Second World War 10 years later. His compositional style was influenced by the musical language of the earlier Claude Debussy, and his contemporary Olivier Messiaen, as well as his interest in music, dance and philosophy of the far east. At the outbreak of WWII Alain became a dispatch rider in the Eighth Motorised Armour Division of the French Army; he took part in the Battle of Saumur, in which he was killed.
He wrote choral music, including a Requiem mass, chamber music, songs and three volumes of piano music. But it is his organ music for which he is best known. His most famous work is Litanies, composed in 1937. That work is prefaced with the text: "Quand l’âme chrétienne ne trouve plus de mots nouveaux dans la détresse pour implorer la miséricorde de Dieu, elle répète sans cesse la même invocation avec une foi véhémente. La raison atteint sa limite. Seule la foi poursuit son ascension." ("When, in its distress, the Christian soul can find no more words to invoke God's mercy, it repeats endlessly the same litany....for reason has reached its limit; only faith can take one further...").
Author:Theo Willemze
Source:Componistenlexicon
Requiem
Period:Expressionism
Composed in:1938
Musical form:fragment
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Duration:6'50''
Label(s):Arion ARN 68321
Listen: Sisyphe 004
It contains only: 'Kyrie', 'Sanctus' and 'Agnus Dei'; the length is ca. 6'50. Alain often said: "In the heart of man there is anything and everything." Apparently he had an innate gift - a poet's gift - for capturing the finest images of life: 'a face once glimpsed, a bough stirring in the wind, a scent wafting on the night air or a familiar rhythm. Though short, his Requiem, composed in 1938, has all the fluidity and purity of Gregorian chant, sung a cappella.
Source:booklet of CD Requiem pour un millénaire