One of the books that I am reading now is "The Vintage Guide to Classical Music" by Jan Swafford. It is a series of essays about the life and work of the great composers.
What I love about that book is that all of the great composers are crazy. We like to envision our classical composers as respectable staid individuals. I am almost through the romantic period, and I have met a good number of alcoholics, beggars, and a surprising number of artists driven insane by syphilis. A lot of these guys could give Keith Richards some competition in the decadent, self destructive race. It is really quite fantastic.
I just finished a section on Tchaikovsky, and there is a passage that is to fantastic and must be shared with everyone.
"Though during an early attempt at conduction he [Tchaikovsky] had developed the hallucination that his head was falling off (through the piece he held on to it with one hand)." Page 321