An excellent biography of the great musician, with sound balance of the various influences that shaped his life: -- his background, parents, poverty, of early years, sensitive yet jovial nature, his teachers -- Cossel and Marxsen -- his friendships with Joachim, the Schumanns, and lesser musical personalities. The life of the composer is sympathetically presented, with the emphasis on the human factors rather than the musical aspects, though it is a dominant factor throughout his life. The inclusion of contemporary criticism and excerpts from his own letters give the reader some opportunity to evaluate his works. Humorous episodes, good pen portraits, awareness of his good points and bad, good dialogue and description -- and interest maintained at high level throughout. This should reach an adult market as well as a teen market.