Birmingham's present musical eminence is principally associated with Simon Rattle's brilliant seasons with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 1980 to 1999. This exciting and very prestigious development was in fact a transformation, based on a solid musical foundation built up through the endeavour of many interesting and active musicians and music-lovers over a period of several centuries. It did not, like Athene, spring fully armed from the head of Zeus so to speak. Moving through the ages, from the chantries of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, to the busy eighteenth century organists whose enterprise led to the great nineteenth century Musical Festivals and culminating in the age of the orchestra in the twentieth, the book describes how the foundation was laid. The reader will enjoy thumbnail sketches of the personalities involved, as well as appreciating them in their own settings and in the wider perspective. The consequence of all their efforts and achievements is that Birmingham's reputation as an industrial centre has now been equalled by its present reputation as cultural one.
This is an account of how, with no single architect but many men of vision, the present-day much admired edifice has been established.