To mark the 75th anniversary of its poignant wartime premiere, Olivier Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time will be performed by a group of acclaimed chamber musicians at 5 p.m. on Jan. 24 at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe.
Quartet for the End of Time was written by the 31-year-old French composer while he was interned in Stalag VIII-A, a prisoner-of-war camp in Görlitz, Germany (now Zgorzelec, Poland) during World War II. A sympathetic guard provided resources and allowed Messiaen to compose the piece and perform it with three other prisoner-musicians. The eight-movement quartet had its premiere at the camp in January 1941 in a freezing barracks full of prisoners, and has since become a powerful symbol of hope.
The 75 th anniversary concert is free to the public, but advance registration is required.
This event, a Tikkun Fellowship Project spearheaded by pianist Yana Reznik, is made possible by the Jewish United Fund's Russian Jewish Division and the Genesis Philanthropy Group.
Reznik's passionate performances and captivating storytelling won the hearts of thousands on her 2010-2014 tour across the United States. She will be joined by an all-star trio of internationally acclaimed musicians: clarinetist Julian Milkis, who was Benny Goodman's only student; violinist Ilya Kaler, the only violinist in the world to win Gold Medals at all three of the most prestigious international violin competitions, the Tchaikovsky, Sibelius and Paganini Competitions; and cellist Dmitry Kouzov, who has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician on five continents.
Although Olivier Messiaen was not Jewish, he experienced the horrors of the war that claimed 6 million Jews.
"The particular acts of murder and dehumanization perpetrated against the Jewish communities and other minority groups in Hitler's path led some to think and create around the theme of an imminent apocalypse," said North Shore Congregation Israel Cantor David Goldstein. "Such is the case with Olivier Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time . In the midst of such ugliness, the artistic expression of this prisoner of war stands as a reminder of our human potential and hope."
"As a musician who dedicates one's life to music, I was very inspired by the story of the creation of the quartet," Reznik said. "Even in the most horrid of circumstances, Messiaen's passion for music never faded, his faith never died. As he continued to create, he inspired thousands of others around him to keep on fighting, to keep on believing, and to remain unshaken.
"That is the power of music," she said. "I hope that all people in attendance will leave with a sense of remembrance, hope, light, and peace."
To register for the concert, visit www.juf.org/quartet .
Linda S. Haase is the senior associate vice president of Marketing Communications for the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago.