Marie-Claire Alain

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Through her concert performances, masterclasses and numerous recordings, Marie-Claire Alain became one of the leading figures in the organ world.

Marie-Claire Alain was born on August 10, 1926 into a family of musicians in St Germain-en-Laye, near Paris. She studied music at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique in Paris, where she won four Premier Prix, followed shortly after by several awards in international competitions.

Mme Alain toured extensively throughout the world, giving over 2000 concerts, either recitals or as a soloist with orchestra. The critics were unanimous in praising the luminous clarity of her playing, her pure style, the intense and lively musicality of her interpretation and her outstanding skill in the art of registration.

A very sought-after pedagogue, rightly famous for her lecture–recitals, she based her teaching on an in-depth study of musicology and continues to pursue the field of organ literature and the performance of Early, Romantic and Symphonic music. She was head of the “Cycle de Formation Professionnelle” for organists at the Conservatoire National de Region in Paris.

Marie-Claire Alain’s impressive list of recordings comprises of more than 260 discs, including the famous complete works of J.S. Bach, Buxtehude, Bruhns, Böhm, Couperin, Grigny, Daquin, Pachelbel, Mendelssohn, C. Franck, Jehan Alain, and the concertos of Poulenc, Handel, J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Vivaldi; which have earned her more than 15 Grands Prix du Disque. Several other CDs were devoted to Liszt, Widor and Vierne.

The town of Lübeck awarded Marie-Claire Alain the Buxtehude Prize, acknowledging her specialized work in early German music. In Budapest she was awarded the Franz Liszt Prize and in Copenhagen, the Leonie Sonning Foundation Music Prize where in addition she was decorated with the Danish Dannebrog Order.

A member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Music, Marie-Claire Alain was equally a Doctor Honoris Causa of Colorado State University and Southern Methodist University (Dallas, Texas). In France she was a Commander of the Legion d’Honneur and of the Ordre National du Mérite.

She was represented in North America by Murtagh-McFarlane Management, later known as Karen McFarlane Artists, Inc.

Marie-Clarie Alain died on February 26, 2013, at the age of 86.

Marie-Claire Alain’s recital for the International Performer of the Year Award took place on 5 June 1984 at Saint Thomas Church Fifth AvenueClick here to see the actual program with notes. (PDF)

Click here and here to hear two programs featuring performances by Marie-Claire Alain and conversation with Michael Barone on Pipedreams.