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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

Pre-concert talk

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