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No great composer’s story is more predominantly happy than Haydn’s, though even his has its share of clouds. A classic rags-to-riches tale, it sees him move from humble beginnings through decades as a liveried servant to his emergence as the most popular and successful composer of his time. One of the healthiest and least neurotic artists in musical history, he did more than any other single figure to pioneer the symphony, the piano sonata and the string quartet – and he was the first truly great practitioner of each. Brilliant, strikingly original and blessed not only with genius but an infectious sense of humour, he was also profound and modest, and his music, copiously illustrated here, has brought happiness and illumination to millions.