Semyon Bychkov (conductor)

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For the pilot, see Semyon Trofimovich Bychkov.

Semyon Mayevich Bychkov (Russian: Семён Маевич Бычков, Russian pronunciation: [sʲɪˈmʲjon ˈmaɪvʲɪtɕ bɨtɕˈkof]; born November 30, 1952) is a Soviet-born conductor.

Biography[edit]

Childhood and studies in Russia[edit]

Born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) to Jewish parents, Bychkov studied at the Glinka Choir School for ten years before moving to the Leningrad Conservatory where he was a student of Ilya Musin.[1] While at the Conservatory, Bychkov played volleyball for the Leningrad Dynamos.[1] In 1973 he won the Rachmaninov Conducting Competition and was invited to conduct the Leningrad Philharmonic, a great honour in Soviet Russia. His family suffered from official antisemitism and he decided to leave the country.[1]

Studies and career in the United States[edit]

In 1974, he emigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union. Bychkov attended Mannes College The New School for Music and was director of the Mannes College Orchestra.[1] From 1980 to 1985, Semyon Bychkov served as music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony and as principal guest conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. He made his debut conducting Carmen at the New York City Opera on September 30, 1981[2] (the run of 6 performances were his only appearances with that company). He became music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic in 1985 and held that post until 1989. On 4 July 1983, he became a United States citizen.[3] It was during his time as Music Director of Michigan's Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra that Bychkov's name came to international attention. In 1984, following a series of high-profile cancellations[which?] that resulted in invitations to conduct the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, he was signed to a 10-year recording contract with Philips Classics Records, and made his debut recording conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5.[3][4][5]

Career in Europe[edit]

From 1989 to 1998, Bychkov was music director of the Orchestre de Paris. He became Principal Guest Conductor of the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra in 1990, Principal Guest Conductor of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in 1992, Chief Conductor of Dresden's Semperoper in 1998 and chief conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne in 1997.[6] He remained in Cologne until 2010, during which time he made a series of recordings including Brahms Symphonies No. 1-4, Shostakovich Symphonies Nos. 4, 7, 8, 10 and 11, Mahler Symphony No. 3, Rachmaninov The Bells and Symphonic Dances, Richard Strauss Ein Heldenleben and Ein Alpensinfonie, Verdi's Requiem, as well as Richard Strauss' Elektra and Daphne and Wagner's Lohengrin which won BBC Music Magazine's Record of the Year 2010.[7][8]

Bychkov made his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2003 with a new production of Elektra[9] and returned later that year to conduct Boris Godunov. He conducted Queen of Spades (2006), Lohengrin (2009), Don Carlos (2009), Tannhäuser (2010),[10] La bohème (2012) and Die Frau ohne Schatten (2014) at Covent Garden, and Boris Godunov (2004) and Otello (2007 and 2012) at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In Italy, Bychkov conducted Tosca (1996) and Elektra at La Scala, Milan; a new production of Don Carlo in Torino (2006); and numerous productions at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, including award-winning productions of Jenůfa (1993), Schubert's Fierrabras (1995) and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (1997). Bychkov made his Paris Opera debut with Ballo in maschera (2007) and returned to conduct Tristan und Isolde (2009); and in Vienna he has conducted Elektra (2000), Tristan und Isolde (2001), Daphne (2003) and Lohengrin (2005), as well as Der Rosenkavalier (2005) at the Salzburg Festival.[8]

2012 marked Bychkov’s 60th year which he celebrated with performances with the Vienna Philharmonic in Vienna and Tel Aviv.[11] In 2012, he assumed the newly created Günter Wand Conducting Chair with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.[12]

Semyon Bychkov holds the Otto Klemperer Chair of Conducting Studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London.[1][13]

Personal life[edit]

Bychkov is married to the pianist Marielle Labèque.

Selected discography[edit]

Album Ensemble/Soloists Label Date
WAGNER - Lohengrin Johan Botha, Adrianne Pieczonka, Petra Lang, Kwangchul Youn, Falk Struckmann, Eike Wilm Schulte, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, WDR Rundfunkchor Köln, NDR Chor, Prager Kammerchor, BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE 2010 DISC OF THE YEAR[7] PROFIL, EDITION GÜNTER HÄNSSLER PH 09004 2009
RICHARD STRAUSS - Ein Alpensinfonie, Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche[14] WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne PROFIL, EDITION GÜNTER HÄNSSLER PH 09065 2009
VERDI - Messa da Requiem[15] Violetta Urmana, Olga Borodina, Ramón Vargas, Ferruccio Furlanetto, WDR Rundfunkchor Köln, NDR Chor, Chor des Teatro Regio Turin, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne PROFIL, EDITION GÜNTER HÄNSSLER PH08036 2008
RACHMANINOV - The Bells, Symphonic Dances Tatiana Pavlovskaya, Evgeny Akimov, Vladimir Vaneev

WDR Rundfunkchor Köln, Lege Artis Chamber Choir, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne

PROFIL, EDITION GÜNTER HÄNSSLER PH07028 2007
RICHARD STRAUSS - Elektra[16] Felicity Palmer, Deborah Polaski, Anne Schwanewilms, Graham Clark, Franz Grundheber

WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne

PROFIL, EDITION GÜNTER HÄNSSLER HO5022 2006
SHOSTAKOVICH - Symphony No. 10, GLANERT - Theatrum bestiarum WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne AVIE AV 2137 2007

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Duchen, Jessica (25 March 2010). "Interview: Semyon Bychkov". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  2. ^ Donal Henahan, "City Opera: Patricia Miller as Carmen," New York Times (Oct. 2, 1981).
  3. ^ a b Anne Midgette (22 January 2004). "For a Russian Masterpiece, A Russian-Born Maestro". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  4. ^ Royal Academy of Music website: Klemperer Chair of Conducting Studies
  5. ^ Shostakovich Symphony No. 5, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Semyon Bychkov, Philips, Gramophone Magazine Online, March 1987
  6. ^ Terry Grimley (1 January 2009). "Semyon Bychkov: Eclectic Dreams". Birminghan Post. Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  7. ^ a b BBC Worldwide Press Releases: Conductor Semyon Bychkov awarded Disc of the Year for Wagner's Opera Lohengrin [1]
  8. ^ a b LA Phil, Philpedia, About the Conductor: Semyon Bychkov
  9. ^ MusicalCriticism.com, Interview: Semyon Bychkov on returning to Covent Garden for Lohengrin, 25 April 2009 [2]
  10. ^ Financial Times, Milestones for conductor Semyon Bychkov, Andrew Clark, January 2, 2009 [3]
  11. ^ Wiener Philharmoniker website
  12. ^ The BBC Symphony Orchestra announces newly created position for Semyon Bychkov
  13. ^ "News - New Staff Members" (Press release). Royal Academy of Music. 14 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  14. ^ BBC Music Magazine online - Review: Strauss - Eine Alpensinfonie & Till Eulenspiegels [4]
  15. ^ BBC Music Magazine online - Review: Verdi, Requiem
  16. ^ BBC Music Magazine - Review: Elektra

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Julius Rudel
Music Director, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
1985–89
Succeeded by
Maximiano Valdés
Preceded by
Hans Vonk
Principal Conductor, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne
1997–2010
Succeeded by
Jukka-Pekka Saraste