Joseph Martin Kraus (1756-1792), demonstrated talents as a composer at a young age and went on to lead an illustrious, if brief, career as an acclaimed classical composer. At the age of 26, Kraus embarked on a four-year grand tour, receiving accolades from some of the most important musical luminaries of the period as well as achieving a reputation as one of the top six most important composers of his age (the others being Haydn, Mozart, Rosetti, Pleyel, and Reichardt). Like Mozart, he was a prolific correspondent, whose many observations include musings on the music and musicians of his time. Kraus's intimate letters to family give an unusual picture of the private man, showing a slice of domestic life in the 18th century among the emerging middle class. These letters include one of the few descriptions of the great Handel Centenary Festival from an outsider, critiques of the operas performed in Paris by Piccinni, the first mention in history of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, and descriptions of the art and archeology of Pompeii. These documents are crucial to the understanding of not only Kraus's life and works, but also of the 18th century life of an important composer and his milieu.