Semyon Bychkov, music director and chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, is internationally recognized for an approach to music-making that combines innate musicality with the rigors of Russian music pedagogy. Like his orchestra, he has strong ties to the cultures of both Western Europe and the Slavic East.
Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Mr. Bychkov studied at the Glinka Choir School and at the Leningrad Conservatory as a pupil of Ilya Musin. At age 20 he won the Rachmaninoff Conducting Competition; however, denied the accompanying prize of conducting the Leningrad Philharmonic, he departed for the US. He returned to the Leningrad Philharmonic in 1989 as principal guest conductor and was named music director of the Orchestre de Paris the same year. He was named chief conductor of Cologne’s WDR Symphony Orchestra in 1997, and chief conductor of Dresden’s Semperoper in 1998. In addition to his commitment to the Czech Philharmonic, he currently holds the honorary Klemperer Chair of Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music and the Günter Wand Conducting Chair with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with which he appears annually at the BBC Proms.
Recent US engagements have included the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony. This season he is also heard with The Cleveland Orchestra, which he last conducted in 2017. In Europe, he is an annual guest of the Berlin Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and London Symphony Orchestra, and tours frequently with Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Munich and Vienna Philharmonic orchestras. He conducts at all of the major opera houses, including Milan’s Teatro alla Scala; Opéra national de Paris; Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Teatro Real; and Vienna Staatsoper. In addition to conducting the core symphonic and operatic repertoire, he has worked closely with many leading contemporary composers, including Berio, Dutilleux, and Kagel. In recent seasons, he has collaborated with Julian Anderson, Richard Dubugnon, Detlev Glanert, Thomas Larcher, and René Staar.
His Tchaikovsky Project with the Czech Philharmonic is a series of concerts, residencies, and studio recordings that allow him to explore Tchaikovsky together with the orchestra and record the results for Decca. Launched in 2016, the project culminates in 2019 with residencies in Prague, Tokyo, Paris, and Vienna and the release of the complete recordings. Semyon Bychkov was named 2015 Conductor of the Year by the International Opera Awards.