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Laura Mamyan

Léon Minkus was born Alois Ludwig Minkus in 1826 in Vienna, where he is presumed to have studied. A violinist, conductor and composer, he was said to be of Hungarian origin, although by ancestry of Russian or Polish derivation. His first excursion into the world of ballet was in a collaboration in 1846 for Paris with Edouard Delvedez, Paquita, staged at the Opéra with Carlotta Grisi and Lucien Petipa. The latter’s brother Marius Petipa took the work to St Petersburg for his début there in 1847, commissioning a Pas de trios and a Grand pas from Minkus, two pieces that survive in modern Russian repertoire. By the early 1850s Minkus had moved to Russia. From 1853 to 1856 he directed the orchestra of Prince Yusupov, appeared as a soloist and taught the violin. In 1861 he became a solo violinist at the Bolshoy Theatre in Moscow, serving as conductor of the orchestra for ten years from 1862 and for much of this time as ballet composer to the theatre. From 1866 he taught the violin at the Moscow Conservatory and served as inspector to the orchestras of the imperial theatres. In 1872 he moved to St Petersburg as ballet composer to the imperial theatres, a position he held until its abolishment in 1886. He finally returned to Vienna, where he died in 1917.



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