Olivier Messiaen was called to active duty as a hospital nurse in the French Army at the onset of World War II in 1939. Soon after, he was captured by German troops and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany. It was there that he—against all odds—was able to compose and premiere his masterful Quartet for the End of Time. Messiaen was limited to an unconventional combination of instruments—clarinet, violin, cello, and piano—that were plagued with varying degrees of disrepair. This is the story of how he was able to create a work of timeless beauty despite unimaginable conditions, proving that the human spirit can rise above even the cruelest moments.
Available through May 31, 2021.