Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) was both the greatest French composer and the most influential scientist of music of the 18th century. His personality was as complex and as singular as his music and his ideas. When he finally achieved fame as an opera composer he polarised Parisian society like no other artistic figure of his time. Simon Trowbridge's new book, the first general study of Rameau's life and work to be published in English in over half a century, is both an elegant introduction to Rameau and an exploration of his significance as a major figure in the cultural and intellectual life of Paris during the middle decades of the 18th century. Rameau emerges as a musician who was politically as well as artistically radical, an often paradoxical figure who worked within the official realms of the Opera and the court but who remained his own man.