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Der Kaiser von Atlantis & Music for the End of Time

BBC SO Total Immersion: Music for the End of Time

A candle burns in the centre of the image, with the star of David above it. Barbed wire runs across the photo, and a bird flies out of the right hand side of the image. Viktor Ullmann's image is in the background. The image has BBC SO branding around it.

Extraordinary music written amid the hopelessness of prison and concentration camps that dared to seek the truth – and to hope for better times.

In 1943, Theresienstadt inmates Viktor Ullmann and Peter Kien started to collaborate on a stage work. It would use whatever singers, musicians and instruments were at hand, drawing on styles ranging from jazz and cabaret to Lutheran chorales and grand Czech symphonies. The result was Der Kaiser von Atlantis, a political satire in which Death goes on strike, thwarting the emperor’s plans to maintain his power through endless war. Der Kaiser was quickly quashed when the Nazis saw their own leader in its critique of a petty despot.

Two years earlier, French composer Olivier Messiaen wrote Quartet for the End of Time in a labour camp. It has been described as ‘an intimate expression of awe, a prophetic collective scream and a delirious dance all at once.’ Its closing eulogy expresses the ascent of humankind to paradise.

The performance ends at approximately 10pm, with a 20-minute interval.

This concert will now begin at 7.45pm, 15 minutes later than originally advertised.

Produced by the BBC Symphony Orchestra

Please note that this event deals with subjects of a distressing nature


Aged 14–25? Join Young Barbican for free.

Subject to availability


Choose your seat for each of the priced events and ensure you pick 'Total Immersion Day Pass' as the ticket type. Once a seat from each event has been added to your basket, they will add up to the Day Pass ticket price.

Entry to the 6.30pm talk is guaranteed for day pass holders.

Subject to availability.

50% off

Please bring proof of age where possible


20% off for groups of 10 or more. Please email [email protected] to book group tickets.

Wheelchair spaces and free companion seats may now be booked online. 

Please select the relevant preferences on the access registration page during your booking so we can provide you with the correct information and discounts.

Booking a wheelchair space: Select a seat displaying the wheelchair user icon and then select wheelchair user ticket type. The ticket will be priced at the lowest price for that event. If you need an essential companion, please select the click the E icon next to the wheelchair space you have selected. 

Booking essential companion tickets: Please select at least two tickets and one of them will be automatically discounted to zero in the basket. 

Booking British Sign Language or Captioned Seats: Select seats in the area appropriate to your needs.

*Excludes £3 booking fee

Pre-concert talk

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