Donald Macleod beings by exploring the compositions and early life of Joseph Haydn, including his disastrous marriage to his true love's elder sister. Next, Donald Macleod considers Haydn's relationship with his long-time employers, the aristocratic Esterhazy family, and discovers the composer's loyalty to his boss and the musicians on his staff.
Donald Macleod also considers Haydn's life and work as opera impresario at the Esterhazy summer residence - a glorious palace set in a Hungarian swamp - and tells the story of a tactful musical message to Haydn's employer - the Farewell Symphony.
During his trip to England, Donald Macleod tells how the composer won the hearts of everyone from concert-going public to royalty - not to mention one or two ladies of a certain age.
Donald Macleod finally turns to Haydn's late compositions, including his masterpiece The Creation, inspired partly by the music of Handel and also by a visit to the planetary observatory of William Herschel.