The pianist whom Messiaen made into a priestmain
He was one of the leading pianists of the 1970s, recorded on Decca and generally regarded as a remarkable artist.
Then he disappeared. Whatever became of Jean-Rodolphe Kars?
The name leaped back to life last week as I reviewed a poor compilation of Liszt cuts and a quick round of research revealed the whole story.
Kars fell in love with Messiaen’s music and his religious faith, following the call (like Liszt) to holy orders. He was baptised in 1976 and became a priest ten years later. No more piano. Only masses and confession.
Here’s his short account (in French) of his spiritual journey. Messiaen told him: ‘being a priest is the most beautiful thing on earth’.
Kars was born Jewish in Calcutta to Austrian parents who fled the Hitler invasion. Raised without faith, he found it in Messiaen.