In 2004 the London Symphony Orchestra celebrates its hundredth birthday. The centenary finds the orchestra acclaimed as one of the best in the world, making music with the most charismatic conductors and soloists on the planet. But it is also a volatile ensemble of highly talented players facing enormous pressures each day - the constant scramble for audiences, subsidy and sponsors in the most ruthlessly competitive musical capital in the world, and the struggle to maintain a family life in a business demanding unsociable hours and long periods away from home. Leading columnist Richard Morrison looks at both sides of the coin: the dazzling public face of the LSO, the personal stories - heroic, hilarious and touching - of the players, and explores what makes this great orchestra tick. He looks at the bad times as well as the good, including the disastrous early years at the Barbican, the notorious playboy era of the 1970s and the remarkable transformation over the past 20 years into one of the most successful and ambitious arts organisations that Britain has ever produced.