Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time - Quator Pour Le Fin Du Temps

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Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time - Quator Pour Le Fin Du Temps Technical and Interpretative Challenges Presented to Performers in Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) played a significant part in the evolution of twentieth-century music, influencing a number of other composers with his innovative compositional techniques. The Quartet for the End of Time, is not one of Messiaen’s typical works due to the circumstances in which it was composed (his main outputs were organ, orchestral and choral works), but it marks the start of the significant use of some of these techniques. In 1940, Messiaen was called up to serve in the army as a hospital orderly, but was soon captured by the Germans and taken to a…show more content…
Interpretative challenges presented by theological ideas behind the Quatuor The Quatuor is based on Revelation 10.1-7, in particular the phrase “there shall be no more time.” Time is represented musically in different ways throughout the Quatuor and the addition of this theological basis to the piece ‘may well have been prompted by the prisoner-of-war conditions in which he found himself, in which time might indeed have seemed literally endless, and the Apocalypse close at hand’ . It is difficult to know, though, to what extent this theological basis must be considered and portrayed when performing the Quartet for the End of Time. The words that it is based on appear in the title and preface, but the challenge to the performer is deciding to what extent the text should be interpreted as a narrative or programme. Similar challenges are presented by Romantic music; if a composer does not provide an explicit programme e.g. Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique it is up to the performer to interpret whether one was meant and to what extent it should be portrayed in a performance. The deciding factor in the case of the Quatuor is to consider movements 5 and

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