Semyon Bychkov

Chief Conductor & Music Director Designate – Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Otto Klemperer Chair of Conducting – Royal Academy of Music
Günter Wand Conducting Chair – BBC Symphony Orchestra

 

Managed in association with Enticott Music Management

Biography

On 3 October 2018, Semyon Bychkov starts his tenure as Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic with a concert that celebrates 100 years of Czech Independence. During the course of the season, Bychkov and the Orchestra will celebrate the centenary with concerts in Prague, London, New York and Washington; embark on extensive tours of the US and Germany; and present concerts in Vienna, Bruges and Bratislava.

Born in St Petersburg in 1952, Bychkov immigrated to the United States in 1975 and has been based in Europe since the mid-1980s. In common with the Czech Philharmonic, Bychkov has one foot firmly in the cultures both of the East and the West. Following his early concerts with the Orchestra in 2013, Bychkov devised The Tchaikovsky Project, a series of concerts, residencies and studio recordings which allowed them the luxury of exploring Tchaikovsky’s music together, both in Prague’s Rudolfinum and abroad.

Read more

Recent News

Reviews

“From the first trumpet call to the final hectic bars of the crowning rondo, the Kennedy Center audience was in thrall. Quiet and attentive throughout, it exploded with applause at the final chord. Each orchestral section was superb, from high brass (that trumpet again), to solid, musical low brass in perfect ensemble, Mahler’s all-important horns speaking loudly when asked, with the strings, high to low, smooth, singing and powerful, winds inaudible in the tuttis but brightly characterful when Mahler asks for their individual or sectional presence, and, of course, the superb percussion. All responded alertly to Bychkov’s requests from very loud to very soft and all gradations in between. It was amazing to hear subito-pianos and pianissimos so miraculously achieved by so many musicians.

None of this would have made a difference without Bychkov himself on the podium. Yes, the opening funeral cortege was a bit measured, and the movement as a whole, no matter how well conducted (and it was last night), is a bit of a trial. Reaching Parts II and III, the music, conductor, and orchestra came fully into accord: The Scherzo was a delight (if the music is a little long winded, blame the composer), and the Adagietto came across as a love song, not an endless dirge. The humorous Rondo brought out the best from everyone.

So back to the question: which orchestra is the world’s greatest? On this occasion, there was only one correct answer: the Royal Concertgebouw under Semyon Bychkov. Case closed.”

David Karlin

Classical Voice America

“Bychkov calls the ‘Leningrad’ Symphony ‘a cry from the heart against death’… His interpretation goes wider than anger and despair, though both emotions coursed through every bar. There was, throughout, a sense of historical and cultural continuity under threat. It’s the best thing I’ve heard Bychkov do, and one of the greatest performances of the work in recent years.”

Tim Ashley

The Guardian

More Reviews

“Conductor Semyon Bychkov… succeeds in maintaining lucid orchestral textures and achieves a finely judged balance between stage and pit.”

George Hall, The Guardian 

“Each of [this new work’s] four movements is fastidiously shaped, and in each there are outbursts of anarchically dissonant fury. But under Semyon Bychkov’s baton the BBC Symphony Orchestra delivered a superbly detailed performance, with the sudden turns into pastiche-Mahler and pastiche-Bach opening like wondrous flowers in a parched terrain. The rest of this Prom was of a similarly high standard. Mezzo Elizabeth Kulman brought rare grace to Wagner’s Wesendonck-Lieder – the beauty of her ‘Im Treibhaus’ took the breath away – while Strauss’s An Alpine Symphony did all that such high-octane program-music is supposed to do.”

Michael Church, The Independent 

“In the Albert Hall’s generous space Strauss’s colossal aural panoroma of a day’s hike on a Bavarian mountain seemed to have found its natural home. Conductor Semyon Bychkov gave the grand passages the time they needed to glow as well as roar, and he made sure the rare delicate passages really told, like the wonder-struck moment when the climber reaches the summit and is lost for words. Strauss’s symphony was the Prom’s summit in terms of aural splendour, but the Symphony No.2 ‘Cenotaph’ by 53-year-old Austrian composer Thomas Larcher wasn’t far behind. There wasn’t a dull moment in this 35-minute piece, cast in the traditional symphonic four movements. Familiar ideas were made to seem brilliant and new, partly by super-bright orchestration, partly by sheer insistence … In between these two diverting pieces, both huge but somehow weightless, it was good to hear something of real substance. Wagner’s Wesendonck-Lieder are often given a sultry air, as if to reveal the all-too-human erotic feelings behind the mystical sentiments of the poetry. Here mezzo-soprano Elisabeth Kulman gave the songs a lovely chaste quality, supported with the utmost delicacy by Bychkov and the BBC SO, which was surprising and deeply moving.”

Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph 

“The Philharmonic remains a superb Mahler orchestra more than a century after the composer led it and half a century after Leonard Bernstein secured its Mahler tradition, and Mr. Bychkov made the most of it despite the hall’s intractable acoustics. Nothing was overblown, and the balances among the various sections, especially between brasses and woodwinds, were exquisite … All in all, an excellent outing for orchestra and conductor.”

James R. Oestreich