Semyon Bychkov was 20 when he won the Rachmaninov Conducting Competition but, having been denied the prize of conducting the Leningrad Philharmonic, he left the former Soviet Union two years later. By the time he returned in 1989 as Principal Guest Conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic, Bychkov had been recognised through his concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and had enjoyed success as Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic. He has since held the positions of Music Director, Orchestre de Paris (1989); Chief Conductor, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne (1997); and, Chief Conductor, Dresden Semperoper (1998).
Bychkov, who studied conducting at the Leningrad Conservatory with the legendary Ilya Musin, combines innate musicality with the rigours of Russian pedagogy. With his time carefully balanced between the concert hall and the opera house, his repertoire spans the music of four centuries.
In the opera house Bychkov is recognised for his interpretation of Strauss, Wagner and Verdi. Nonetheless, while Principal Guest Conductor of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, his productions of Janáček’s Jenůfa, Schubert’s Fierrabras, Puccini’s La bohème, Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov were awarded the prestigious Premio Abbiati. Most recently Semyon Bychkov conducted Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina at the Vienna Staatsoper, and over next season will conduct Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at Covent Garden and Wagner’s Parsifal at Madrid’s Teatro Real. In addition to regular invitations to the Berlin Philharmonic, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI Torino, Orchestre National de France, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Bychkov’s symphonic engagements include annual tours with the Munich Philharmonic, Concertgebouw and Vienna Philharmonic.
Bychkov’s recordings with Philips included discs with the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio, Concertgebouw, Philharmonia, London Philharmonic and Orchestre de Paris, which were followed by a series of benchmark recordings with WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne that include a complete cycle of Brahms Symphonies, works by Strauss, Mahler, Shostakovich, Rachmaninov, Verdi, Glanert, Höller and, a recording of Wagner’s Lohengrin which was voted BBC Music Magazine’s Record of the Year.
Bychkov currently holds the Klemperer Chair of Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music, and the Günter Wand Conducting Chair with the BBC Symphony Orchestra with whom he appears annually at the BBC Proms. The International Opera Awards named him 2015’s Conductor of the Year.