Ludwig Minkus (23 March 1826, Bohemia-7 December 1917, Vienna) grew up in Vienna where he hoped to establish a reputation as a violinist and composer. In 1853 he emigrated to St Petersburg where he became the conductor and solo violinist of the private orchestra of Prince Nikolai Yusupov. In 1861 he became violin soloist and, a year later, conductor of the Moscow Bolshoi Orchestra, and began a fruitful working friendship with the choreographer Arthur Saint-Leon. The enormous success of his score for Don Quixote led to Minkus being appointed Official Composer to the Imperial Russian Ballet-a position he held until it was discontinued in 1886. He left Russia and returned to Vienna in the summer of 1891, where he lived in semi retirement until his death in 1917. Minkus wrote music for more than twenty ballets, the most famous being Don Quixote (1869) and La Bayadere (1877). Minkus's reputation has suffered with his work negatively compared with that of his contemporary, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), an unhelpful exercise as the two composers were from different musical traditions. Tchaikovsky, from his first major work, the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, emerged as an orchestral composer, accustomed to working with complex structures, large time spans and rich orchestral colours. Minkus, from his Viennese training and background, became a dedicated ballet composer, specializing in rhythmic music with immediate melodic appeal; the character, length, tempo and beat of the dances being determined by the choreographer, a practice Tchaikovsky himself followed in his score for The Sleeping Beauty. The rhythmic ebullience and melodic charm of Minkus's music are nowhere better revealed than in the basically comic scenario for Don Quixote. But his apprehension of a tragic vision in La Bayadere was also a masterly achievement, where his conception of broader spans, Leitmotif and emotional colour, with a more symphonic approach in the famous episode of the Kingdom of the Shades, resulted in a supreme masterpiece of the ballet repertoire. Marius Alphonse Petipa (11 March 1818 Marseille-14 July 1910 Gursuf, Crimea) studied music and dancing in Belgium, particularly with his father, Jean Antoine Petipa. He became premier danseur at the Comedie Francaise in Paris (1840), choreographer and dancer at the King's Theatre in Madrid (1843-6), premier danseur at the Imperial Theatre in St Petersburg (1847), and then Imperial Ballet Master in 1862, a position he held until the beginning of the 20th century. He is regarded as the father of Russian ballet, having choreographed fifty-four new ballets, re-choreographed seventeen old ones, and provided the dances for thirty-five opera ballets. His best known works include Pharaoh's Daughter (with Pugni) (1862), Don Quixote (1869) and La Bayadere (1877) (with Minkus), The Sleeping Beauty (1890) and Swan Lake (1895) (with Tchaikovsky, and the choreographer Ivanov), Raymonda (1898) and The Seasons (1900) (with Glazunov) and Millions d'Arlequin (with Drigo) (1900). Robert Ignatius Letellier has specialized in the music and literature of the Romantic Period. He has studied the work of Giacomo Meyerbeer (a four-volume English edition of his diaries, a collection of critical and biographical studies, a guide to research, two readings of the operas, as well as compiling and introducing editions of the complete libretti and non-operatic texts, and a selection of manuscripts facsimiles). He has also written on the ballets of Ludwig Minkus and compiled a series of scores from the Romantic Ballet.
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