The Czech composer and violinist Ludwig Minkus was born in Vienna, where he began his career as a composer of dance music. From the 1850s, he worked in Russia, employed as a violinist and achieving prominence as a ballet composer in the theatre. He also worked as a conductor at the Bolshoy in Moscow, and then as ballet composer at the Mariinsky in St Petersburg whilst maintaining a connection with Paris. He returned to Vienna after 1890.
Minkus’s connection with Paris began with his ballet Paquita, staged there in 1846. He collaborated with Delibes on the ballet La Source and made a lasting contribution to Russian ballet repertoire with his Don Quixote, choreographed by Petipa. He collaborated with Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Cui and Mussorgsky on the abortive ballet Mlada, later using the music he had written for a work of his own. His La Bayadère also remains in current ballet repertoire.