Music for the End of Time

by Jen Bryant and Beth Peck

During World War II, composer Olivier Messiaen was a soldier in the French army when... read more

During World War II, composer Olivier Messiaen was a soldier in the French army when he was captured by the Germans and held as a prisoner of war. When he learned of Olivier’s occupation, the young German officer in charge of the camp gave him permission to work on his music, eventually providing him with a broken-down piano. Three other prisoners were also musicians, and when Olivier completed the composition on which he had been working the four of them performed it for 5,000 fellow prisoners on January 15, 1941. Jen Bryant’s eloquent picture book account of the events surrounding the composition and debut performance of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time is set against Wisconsin artist Beth Peck’s lyrical charcoal and pastel illustrations that beautifully balance somber tones of prison life with soaring scenes in which the music is symbolized by sweeping swaths of warm yellow and the freedom of birds in flight. (Ages 6–9)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2006

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