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Aloisus Ludwig Minkus Composer

Born in Vienna on 23 March, 1826, Minkus studied at the Vienna Conservatory and began serious composition in his teens, composing five pieces for violin that were published in 1846. He also began to compose light music for dancing, performed as a solo violinist and briefly conducted an orchestra that competed with that of the younger Johann Strauss. In 1846, 19 year old Minkus arrived in Paris. There is some debate as to whether he contributed to the score of the ballet Paquita that premiered in Paris in 1846 by the experienced ballet composer, Edouard Deldevez. However, he is credited for the 1847 production of the ballet in St. Petersburg and he did contribute a new pas de trois and grand pas when Petipa revived the ballet in 1881. The first public performance of ballet music by Minkus, was an en'tracte inserted into a Moscow performance of Adam's Orfa.

By 1853 he was the conductor/violin soloist of the private serf orchestra of Prince Nikolai Yusupov. Two years later he joined the orchestra of the Italian Opera Theater in St. Petersburg. 1861 saw the beginning of an association with the Bolshoi Theater, first as violin soloist and a year later as conductor with the title of ‘Inspector of the Orchestras’. In 1864 he was named ballet composer at the Bolshoi. In 1863 he composed the music for Saint-Léon's Fiametta, and a shortened version of his Salamander was given in Paris as Némea in 1864.

On returning to Russia, he began writing ballet music for Petipa's work. In 1868 Petipa planned his Don Quixote for the Bolshoi Theater, with music composed by Minkus. It had enormous success when first performed in 1869 and won him the post of Official Composer to the Imperial Russian Ballet which he held until it was discontinued in 1886. These were fertile years for Minkus and his many compositions included La Bayadère in 1877.

Dissatisfied with his pension from the Russian government, Minkus retired to his native Vienna where he resided until his death from pneumonia, December 7, 1917.

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