Quatuor pour la fin du tempsQuatuor pour la fin du temps
, also known by its English
title Quartet for the End of Time
, is a piece of chamber music
by the French composer Olivier Messiaen
. It was written around 1940
and is generally regarded as one of his most important works.
The piece was composed in highly unusual circumstances. Messiaen had been captured by the German army during World War II and was held as a prisoner of war in Görlitz in Silesia. He had managed to retain some manuscript paper and upon discovering a violinist, a cellist and a clarinettist among his fellow prisoners, he wrote a short trio for them. He later wrote the Quatuor for the same trio plus himself at the piano.
The work was premiered to an audience of 5000 POWs and guards in Stalag VIII A on January 15, 1941. Messiaen later recalled the occasion, saying "never have I been heard with as much attention and understanding."
The work is in eight movements, each with a title. Not all the instruments play in every movement:
- "Liturgie de cristal" (Liturgy of crystal) - for the full quartet
- "Vocalise, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps" (Vocalise, for the Angel who announces the end of time) - for the full quartet
- "Abîme des oiseaux" (Abyss of birds) - for solo clarinet
- "Intermčde" (Interlude) - for violin, cello and clarinet
- "Louange ŕ l'Éternité de Jésus" (Praise to the eternity of Jesus), for cello and piano
- "Danse de la fureur, pour les sept trompettes" (Dance of fury, for the seven trumpets) - for the full quartet
- "Fouillis d'arcs-en-ciel, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps" (Mingling of rainbows, for the Angel who announces the end of time) - for the full quartet
- "Louange ŕ l'immortalité de Jésus" (Praise to the immortality of Jesus) - for violin and piano
A typical performance of the work lasts around fifty minutes.