Claude Debussy was that rare creature, a composer who reinvented the language of music without alienating the majority of music lovers. He is the modernist everyone loves. How did he manage this? Was it through the association of his music with visual images, or was it simply that, by throwing out the rule book of the Paris Conservatoire where he studied, his music put beauty of sound above the spiritual ambitions of the German tradition from which those rules derived. Stephen Walsh's thought-provoking biography, told partly through the events of Debussy's life, and partly through a critical discussion of his music, addresses these and other questions about one of the most influential composers of the early twentieth century.