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Repertory Archive

Ludwig Minkus



Ludwig Minkus, the ballet composer and violinist, was born in Vienna in 1826.

Minkus made his first appearance as a composer in Paris in April 1846 with Paquita, which was written jointly with Edward Deldevez and choreographed by Joseph Mazilier.  La Fiammetta with choreography by Saint‑Léon (February 13, 1864) and Nemea (July 14, 1864) followed.  He next collaborated with Délibes on La Source  (November 12, 1866) and composed music for two more ballets with Saint‑Leon as the choreographer – Le Poisson d’Or (1867) and Le Lys (1869) – in Paris.

In 1853 he went to Russia as the conductor of Prince N. B. Yussupov’s serf orchestra in St. Petersburg and was a soloist in the Moscow Bolshoi Orchestra from 1861‑­1872.  He also taught at the Moscow Conservatory (1866‑1872).

From 1864‑1871, Minkus was the official ballet composer at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.  In 1871, he was transferred to St. Petersburg, where he worked until 1891 when his position was eliminated and he was retired.

Discontent with his small pension (the equivalent of about $285.00 a year), the composer left Russia for Austria, where he died, in 1917, at the age of 91.

The composer of over twenty ballets, among them Don Quixote, Roxanna, Camargo, Papillons, The Bandits, The Adventures of Peleas, La Bayadère, The Daughter of the Snows, The Magic Pills, Mlada, Kalkabrino, and Day and Night, Minkus was facile and an excellent craftsman in the context of the style of ballet music of his day.  His music is melodic and distinguished by clear dance rhythms.