Mitja Nikisch was the son of celebrated orchestral conductor Arthur Nikisch and, like his father, became a fine interpreter of classical works. Nonetheless, while respected in that literature—he made his debut as piano soloist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra on April 22, 1918; performed with luminaries such as Wilhelm Furtwängler and Sir Henry J. Wood; and composed a piano concerto, completed shortly before his death—he was most celebrated as leader of a popular jazz band in Berlin during the Weimar Republic era. The band played in fashionable clubs and included some of the most admired popular performers in Germany of the day; prominent guitarist Otto Sachsenhauer described it as "the best dance band ever heard in Berlin." The ascendence of the Nazi Party in Germany put an end to the band, however; despairing, Nikisch committed suicide.
He had been married to and divorced from stage and film actress Nora Gregor.