After the f
all of France in 1940, Messiaen was interned for nine months in the German prisoner of war camp Stalag Vll-A,
where he composed his "Quatuor pour la fin du temps"
("Quartet for the end of time") for the four instruments available in the prison—piano, violin, cello and clarinet.
The piece was first performed by Messiaen and fellow prisoners for an audience of inmates and prison guards. He was appointed professor of harmony soon after his release in 1941 and professor of composition in 1966 at the Paris Conservatoire, positions that he held until his retirement in 1978.
Susan’s memoir covers the two and half years she spent with her husband while he suffered with a brain tumor. She talks of the book with candor and sensitivity.