Quatuor pour la fin du temps

When Olivier Messiaen was imprisoned in a German concentration camp during World War II, he found among his number three other musicians. Olivier had at hand a clarinet, violin, and cello, along with himself at the piano. With this awkward quatuor, he wrote what may not be his most beautiful piece, but arguably his most significant. The piece was titled, “Quatuor pour le fin du temps.”

The Quartet for the End of Time

Quatuor Pour le Fin du Temps

Thinking that he may not survive this internment, he chose to write this piece with a purpose. Within the measures of the music are the compositional devices that he developed in his lifetime; all the tricks of his trade. Another composer could pick up this score, analyze it, and learn everything that Messiaen had to offer as a composer and teacher.

As it turned out, Messiaen did survive that camp and went on to compose several other works. I cannot listen to this piece without thinking of the desperation in the pages. Or is it hope? His preface quoted the book of Revelation and looked to the vindication of the people of God. Imagine the focus, the longing, the desire to pass on the brilliance of living to the next practitioner. It is not arrogance. It is a sober inventory of your existence that produces a result: you have something that the world needs.

And that is why we write.

And that is why we teach.

Have you written your quartet?

Could someone look at your life’s work-to-date and discover why and how and what you do and believe? What are you waiting for? These thoughts and approaches are not your own. There are two ways to view arrogance, both of which center on the self. One is explained in overt assertion of one’s abilities an strengths, the other is explained in an unwillingness to give of oneself due to personal reasons. In both cases, it is the individual who is passing judgment and making decisions that benefit the self instead of others.

We need to get past that. Make mistakes. Stop protecting yourself.

If you learned anything in 4th grade band,

you surely learned “strong and wrong.”

We can fix the mistakes that we hear.

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  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dr. David D. Timony, Dr. David D. Timony. Dr. David D. Timony said: Have you written your manifesto? Holding back? http://ow.ly/38xUu #edchat #ecosys […]

  • I like your definition of arrogance
    because I am pathologically selfish,
    and it fits me to a ,”T”.

    Everything I do as a creative person
    came from somewhere else and I know
    it. It only has the appearance of
    being original sometimes.

    I used to think I was the deepest
    creative mind on the planet until I
    got challenged by people who knew
    how to approach me with a new idea;
    that I was ,”standing on the shoulder
    of giants”.

    Those of us who are egomaniacs do not
    react well to challenges like this
    and we might really freak out.

    At UARTs people called me out all the
    time about this issue; I was not a
    serious student by any means but I
    was certainly captivated by my own
    ,”genius”, I was more of an actor
    then a fine arts major.

    I don’t recall you talking about any
    of your compositions when we worked
    together at the Annex. At that time
    I was finding my own musical spirit
    with electronic keyboards and thought
    I was the only one who was doing the
    stuff I was doing…little did I know
    that I was an average electronic sound

    I have made beautiful electronic sound
    -scapes in my day but there are many
    other people who have done the same

    I admire OM because he made what he
    made under duress, in an environment
    that was not generally conducive for
    luxurious creativity. People were
    highly resourceful in POW/Concentration
    camps though, making forms of art that
    where directly sustaining life…stuff
    like sewing, systems of communication
    that guards could not understand, as
    well as food implements and medical

    You are such a mature fellow, I am glad
    you talked about how you failed to be
    mature and discovered a blindspot in
    your own thinking. I found you difficult
    person to get along with because you
    seemed to know everything and I don’t
    react well to peer mentorship. It is a
    horrible thing for me to be someone
    else’s ,”bitch”, intellectually.

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