Home / Persons / YVAIN Maurice

Print content of page

YVAIN, Maurice (1891-1965)

The son of a trumpeter and a milliner, Maurice Yvain devoted himself to music at a very young age: he entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1902 and was taught by Louis Diémer (piano) and Xavier Leroux (harmony). Although he wasted no time beginning a career as a concert pianist and accompanist, this was interrupted in 1912 by his military service which lasted the entire duration of the war (he was demobilised in 1919). It was while he was in the army that he met Maurice Chevalier, his main champion during the 1920s. After abandoning his instrumental career, Yvain devoted himself completely to composition, soon achieving success: his songs Mon homme (1920) and J’en ai marre (1921), first performed by Mistinguett, paved the way for him to write for the stage. His successful operettas Ta bouche (1922), followed by Là-haut (1923), to librettos by Albert Willemetz and supported by Maurice Chevalier in the lead role, marked the start of an extremely prolific creative period (18 works in 13 years). In later years, he may have used the Proustian pseudonym of Jean Sauteuil. From the early 1930s, Yvain also composed film scores, working again, in the case of L’Assassin habite au 21 (1942), with Henri-Georges Clouzot, who had been the librettist for one of his operettas ten years earlier (La Belle Histoire, 1934). Yvain’s style is strongly characterised by syncopated rhythms from the United States (ragtime, foxtrot, one-step, etc.). His last big hit – Chanson gitane (1946, Gaîté-Lyrique) – was followed by several forays into a more serious repertoire: the ballet Blanche-Neige (Opéra, 1951) and Le Corsaire noir (Marseille, 1958).