This is a beautifully written and comprehensive biography of Tchaikovsky. The book is written in a very conversational yet authoritative style, and draws the reader in to what Tchaikovsky may have been thinking during his compositional periods. Clearly the author is extraordinarily knowledgeable about his subject, having written a four volume biography years earlier. This is a far more manageable read, yet conveys the essentials. By juxtaposing Tchaikovsky's life with his compositions, it is much easier to understand the meaning behind so many of his recondite works. I particularly enjoyed the in-depth analyses of his compositions, as well as the author's editorial comments about their quality. Although it seems there is little about Tchaikovsky that he doesn't like, the author uses a rating system to point the reader to the most important of works, such as the late symphonies, the violin and first piano concertos, and the ballets (especially Sleeping Beauty). I was left wishing how interesting it would have been to talk to the composer in person: he was a complex man who divulged his soul through his music. Understanding the background of the Tchaikovsky works, and understanding his state of mind against the backdrop of the tribulations of his personal life when composing, vastly enhances the listening of his music; in this regard Tchaikovsky is almost unique because the man, his life, and his music become inseparable. All the book lacked for me were recommendations for specific recordings that the author felt were exalted. Nevertheless - Bravo!