Cairns has achieved something remarkable with this book. Making sense effortlessly of the twists and turns of Berlioz's career, his switch from monumental pieces like the Requiem to the fizzing orchestral fireworks of Benvenuto Cellini, his love-hate relationship with his writing -- all this and much more. He really makes us feel we know the man, as so few of his contemporaries can have. And while Cairns is, as you'd expect, masterful in dealing with Berlioz's music, he sheds if anything even more light on Berlioz the man. The end is unutterably sad. Perhaps the only criticism is that it is hard, reading this book, to understand why anyone could fail to be immediately won over by Berlioz's output, then or now...!