classical music
classical music

Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time

Part of Classical Season 2017/18

Hear two great works of art by Shostakovich and Messiaen that emerged from the horrors of war.

Having appeared many times at Southbank Centre as a solo pianist, Steven Osborne performs for the first time as part of our International Chamber Music Series.

Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No.2 moves from folk melodies to bitterly strident repetitions, from a sombre chaconne to a frenzied dance. It was composed in Ivanovo, an artists’ retreat about 300 kilometres north-east of Moscow, soon after the end of the Siege of Leningrad, during which a million citizens were killed. Shostakovich had evacuated Leningrad in 1941.

The Trio is dedicated to one of Shostakovich’s closest friends, Ivan Sollertinsky, who had died the year before. Shostakovich mourned his ‘phenomenal love of the art of music, to which he devoted his matchless life.’

Messiaen wrote his Quartet for the End of Time during his imprisonment in Camp Stalag VIIIA, and it was premiered before 5,000 prisoners on 15 January 1941. It is scored for clarinet, violin, cello and piano, so that it could be performed by Messiaen with three professional musicians who were detained alongside him.

The eight-movement work is inspired by a passage from the Book of Revelation. It opens with notes of birdsong and reaches its climax with an ecstatic eulogy to God’s love.

This concert is performed as part of Religion and War, a segment of Southbank Centre’s year-long series Belief and Beyond Belief. The festival looks at music that speaks of the divine and the human spirit.


Steven Osborne piano
James Ehnes violin
Alban Gerhardt cello
Jean Johnson clarinet


Shostakovich: Piano Trio No.2 in E minor, Op.67
Messiaen: Quatuor pour la fin du temps

Dates & times

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Partner venues
St John's Smith Square,

Smith Square, London SW1P 3HA


£10 - £38
Booking fee: £3.50 (Members £0.00)
£10, £15, £28, £38


50% off (limited availability)
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need to know

Part of Belief and Beyond Belief festival

Book 3 to 4 events in the International Chamber Music Season and save 10% on tickets, or book 5 events and save 20%. This discount is not available on Premium seats and only applies to multiple concerts bought in the same series, not across two or more series.

£7 student tickets are available via the Student Pulse app in the month before this concert. Some of these seats are on the stage. Download the app from any app store or go to