Semyon Bychkov (conductor)
Childhood and studies in Russia
The older brother of the late conductor Yakov Kreizberg, Bychkov was born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) to Jewish parents, and studied at the Glinka Choir School for ten years before moving to the Leningrad Conservatory where he was a student of Ilya Musin. While at the Conservatory, Bychkov played volleyball for the Leningrad Dynamos. In 1973 he won the Rachmaninov Conducting Competition, but was denied the usual prize of conducting the Leningrad Philharmonic by the authorities after he applied for an exit visa. His family had suffered from official antisemitism and after expressing views critical of the Soviet regime he decided to leave the country in 1974, going first to Vienna with only $100 in funds.
Studies and career in the United States
In 1975, at age 22, he left Vienna and emigrated to the United States. Bychkov attended and graduated the Mannes School of Music and was director of the Mannes College Orchestra. From 1980 to 1985, Semyon Bychkov served as music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and as principal guest conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra from 1980 to 1985 as well. He made his debut conducting Carmen at the New York City Opera on September 30, 1981 (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. It was during his time as Chief Conductor of Michigan's Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra that Bychkov's name came to international attention. In 1986, 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.
Career in Europe
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. He remained in Cologne until 2010, during which time he made a series of recordings including Brahms' Symphonies No. 1-4, Shostakovich's Symphonies Nos. 4, 7, 8, 10 and 11, Mahler's Symphony No. 3, Rachmaninov's The Bells and Symphonic Dances, Richard Strauss' Ein Heldenleben and Eine Alpensinfonie, Verdi's Requiem, as well as Strauss' Elektra, Daphne and Wagner's Lohengrin which won BBC Music Magazine's Record of the Year 2010.
Bychkov made his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2003 with a new production of Elektra and returned later that year to conduct Boris Godunov. He conducted Queen of Spades (2006), Lohengrin (2009), Don Carlos (2009), Tannhäuser (2010), 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 (2007), 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 Un 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 (2004) at the Salzburg Festival.
2012 marked Bychkov’s 60th year which he celebrated with performances with the Vienna Philharmonic in Vienna and Tel Aviv. In 2012, he assumed the newly created Günter Wand Conducting Chair with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with whom he appears annually at the BBC Proms.
- Duchen, Jessica (25 March 2010). "Interview: Semyon Bychkov". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
- Wroe, Nicholas (22 November 2012). "Semyon Bychkov: beating time". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
- Donal Henahan, "City Opera: Patricia Miller as Carmen," New York Times (Oct. 2, 1981).
- Anne Midgette (22 January 2004). "For a Russian Masterpiece, A Russian-Born Maestro". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-03.
- Royal Academy of Music website: Klemperer Chair of Conducting Studies
- Shostakovich Symphony No. 5, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Semyon Bychkov, Philips, Gramophone Magazine Online, March 1987
- Terry Grimley (1 January 2009). "Semyon Bychkov: Eclectic Dreams". Birminghan Post. Retrieved 2009-01-03.
- BBC Worldwide Press Releases: Conductor Semyon Bychkov awarded Disc of the Year for Wagner's Opera Lohengrin 
- LA Phil, Philpedia, About the Conductor: Semyon Bychkov
- MusicalCriticism.com, Interview: Semyon Bychkov on returning to Covent Garden for Lohengrin, 25 April 2009 
- Financial Times, Milestones for conductor Semyon Bychkov, Andrew Clark, January 2, 2009 
- Wiener Philharmoniker website
- The BBC Symphony Orchestra announces newly created position for Semyon Bychkov
- "News - New Staff Members" (Press release). Royal Academy of Music. 14 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
- BBC Music Magazine online - Review: Strauss - Eine Alpensinfonie & Till Eulenspiegels 
- BBC Music Magazine online - Review: Verdi, Requiem
- BBC Music Magazine - Review: Elektra
- Semyon Bychkov official website
- Semyon Bychkov at AllMusic
- Article 'Semyon Bychkov - The Maestro of Cologne'
|Music Director, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
|Principal Conductor, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne