Semyon Bychkov’s approach to music making combines innate musicality with the rigours of Russian pedagogy. With his time carefully balanced between the concert hall and the opera house, Bychkov conducts repertoire that spans four centuries.
Born in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) in 1952, Semyon Bychkov was 20 when he won the Rachmaninov Conducting Competition. Two years later, having been denied his prize of conducting the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra he left the former Soviet Union where, from the age of five, he had been singled out for an extraordinarily privileged education in music.
By the time Bychkov returned to St Petersburg in 1989 as the Philharmonic’s Principal Guest Conductor, he had enjoyed success in the US as Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic. In 1989 he was named Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris; in 1997 Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne; and, the following year Chief Conductor of the Dresden Semperoper.
In the opera house, Bychkov is recognized for his interpretation of Strauss, Wagner and Verdi. Bychkov’s symphonic engagements include annual tours with the Munich Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Vienna Philharmonic, as well as guest engagements with orchestras including 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.
In 1986, Bychkov signed with Philips and began a significant recording collaboration which produced an extensive discography with the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Philharmonia, London Philharmonic and Orchestre de Paris. These were later followed by a series of benchmark recordings, the result of his 13-year collaboration (1997-2010) with WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne. His recording of Lohengrin was voted BBC Music Magazine’s Record of the Year in 2010.
Semyon 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.