Michael Steen's Great Composers was originally published in 2003. A lifetime's work and almost 1000 pages long, it has since become the reference point and key read on the biographical backgrounds to classical music's biggest names.
Authoritative and hugely detailed - but nonetheless a joy to read - this new edition will expand its readership further.
Explore the story of Bach, the respectable burgher much of whose vast output was composed amidst petty turf disputes in Lutheran Leipzig; or the ugly, argumentative Beethoven in French-occupied Vienna, obsessed by his laundry; or Mozart, the over-exploited infant prodigy whose untimely death was shrouded in rumour. Read about Verdi, who composed against the background of the Italian Risorgimento; or about the family life of the Wagners; and Brahms, who rose from the slums of Hamburg to become a devotee of beer and coffee in fin-de-siecle Vienna, a cultural capital bent on destroying Mahler.and much, much more.
'A glorious plum-pudding of a book, to be consulted, with pleasure and profit, over and over again.' Sir Jeremy Isaacs
'Michael Steen's beautifully illustrated book packs an astonishing amount of biographical and cultural detail into nearly forty subjects.' Independent on Sunday
'Hugely informative and deliciously gossipy.' Spectator
Michael Steen was born in Dublin, studied at the Royal College of Music, was organ scholar at Oriel College, Oxford and is currently chairman of the Royal College of Music Society.