Ludwig Minkus Composer
Season 23/24 Artist

Biography

An Austrian citizen born to Czech and Hungarian parents, Ludwig Aloysius Minkus (1826-1917) was trained at the Wiener Musikverein (Vienna), where he started to compose for his instrument, the violin. He began his career as Concertmaster at the Vienna Court Opera, and then moved to Saint Petersburg in 1853 where he became conductor of the Serf orchestra of Prince Nikolai Yusupov. In 1858, he served as Concertmaster to the orchestra of the Imperial Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow and then conductor in 1861, while having his first successes as ballet composer at the Moscow Imperial Theatres with Arthur Saint-Léon’s ballets Fiammetta (1864), Le Poisson d’Or (The Golden Fish, 1867) and Le Lys (The Lily, 1869), but above all with 1869 with Marius Petipa’s Don Quixote. The following year, he was appointed official ballet composer at the Bolshoi and, in 1872, in Saint Petersburg.

He had a fruitful working relationship with Marius Petipa, until the director of the Imperial Theatres Ivan Vsevolozhsky offered the position to Tchaikovsky in 1887. He composed the score of many choreographies: Camargo (1872), Le Papillon (1874), The Bandits (1875), Les Aventures de Pelée (1876), La Bayadère (1877), Roxana, the Beauty of Montenegro (1878), The Daughter of the Snows (1878), the Grand pas in Le Corsaire (1881), the divertissement in Paquita (1881), Night and Day (1882), The Magic Pills (1886), The Sacrifices to Cupid (1886) and Kalkabrino (1891).

He also worked with Saint-Léon and taught for a long time at the Moscow Conservatory, and was even named Inspector of Orchestras to the Moscow Imperial Theatres. When in 1866 Émile Perrin commissioned him to compose two tableaux of La Source (by Saint-Léon) for the Paris Opera, Minkus was no stranger to the Parisian public, which had discovered him thanks to his Don Quixote. Besides, his ballet Fiammetta (renamed Néméa, or the avenged love) had received good reviews two years earlier in the house. Before his last success, Mlada (created in 1896 but composed in 1879), Minkus retired to Vienna in 189 where he died in 1917 of pneumonia, alone and in utter poverty. 

Currently in

  • Opéra Bastille
  • from 21 March to 24 April 2024
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