Semyon Bychkov’s inaugural season with the Czech Philharmonic was celebrated with performances from the Orchestra’s home in Prague to concerts in London, New York, and Washington. Now in his sixth season as chief conductor and music director, Bychkov will celebrate 2024’s Year of Czech Music by taking the Orchestra on extensive tours of Asia and Europe.
Bychkov’s first season with the Czech Philharmonic saw the culmination of The Tchaikovsky Project — a series of residencies and seven CDs devoted to Tchaikovsky’s symphonic repertoire. Over the past two years the focus has turned to the music of Mahler, with performances of the symphonies at home, on tour, and on disc for Pentatone. The cycle launched in 2022 with the release of Mahler’s Symphonies Nos. 4 and 5, followed in 2023 with the release of Symphonies No. 2, Resurrection, and No. 1.
Especially recognized for his interpretations of the core repertoire, Bychkov has collaborated with many extraordinary contemporary composers including Luciano Berio, Henri Dutilleux, and Mauricio Kagel. More-recent collaborations include those with Julian Anderson, Bryce Dessner, Detlev Glanert, Thierry Escaich, and Thomas Larcher, whose works he has premiered with the Czech Philharmonic, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the Vienna, Berlin, New York, and Munich philharmonic orchestras. Dividing his time between symphonic and operatic repertoire, this summer he will return to Bayreuth for Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.
Like the Czech Philharmonic, Bychkov has one foot firmly in the culture of the East and one in the West. Born in St. Petersburg in 1952, he emigrated to the United States in 1975 and, since the mid-1980s has lived in Europe. Singled out for an extraordinarily privileged musical education, Bychkov studied at the Glinka Choir School and with the legendary Ilya Musin at the Leningrad Conservatory — combining innate musicality with rigorous Russian pedagogy.
In 2015 Semyon Bychkov was named Conductor of the Year by the International Opera Awards. He received an honorary doctorate from the Royal Academy of Music in July 2022 and was named Conductor of the Year by Musical America in October 2022. Bychkov was one of the first musicians to express his position on the outbreak of the war in Ukraine and has subsequently spoken frequently in support of Ukraine.