Newly appointed Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, Semyon Bychkov was born in Saint Petersburg and studied at the Glinka Choir School and, as a pupil of the legendary Ilya Musin, at the Leningrad Conservatory. At age twenty he won the Rachmaninoff Conducting Competition then immigrated to the United States. He made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 1989.
Mr. Bychkov enjoyed success in the US and Europe following invitations to conduct the New York and Berlin philharmonics and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He went on to hold positions as principal guest conductor of the Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) Philharmonic, principal guest conductor of Maggio Musicale Florence, music director of the Orchestre de Paris, chief conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, and chief conductor of the Dresden Semperoper.
Following concerts with the Czech Philharmonic in 2013, Mr. Bychkov and the orchestra devised The Tchaikovsky Project, a series of concerts, residencies, and studio recordings that allowed them the luxury of exploring Tchaikovsky’s music together, both in Prague’s Rudolfinum (the orchestra's primary hall) and abroad. The first fruit of The Tchaikovsky Project—a recording of Symphony No. 6 coupled with the Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy-Overture—was released by Decca in 2016, and was followed in August 2017 by the release of the Manfred Symphony. The Tchaikovsky Project culminates in 2019 with residencies in Vienna and Paris, and Decca’s release of all Tchaikovsky’s symphonies, the three piano concertos, Romeo and Juliet, Serenade for Strings, and Francesca da Rimini.
In addition to the core repertory, Mr. Bychkov has worked closely with composers including Luciano Berio, Henri Dutilleux, and Mauricio Kagel. In recent seasons he has collaborated with Julian Anderson, Richard Dubignon, Detlev Glanert, Thomas Larcher, and René Staar, conducting premieres of their works with the Vienna Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the BBC Symphony at the BBC Proms.
In demand as an opera conductor, in 2018 Mr. Bychkov leads Wagner’s Parsifal both at the Vienna State Opera and Bayreuth. Other new productions in Vienna include R. Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier and Daphne, Wagner’s Lohengrin, and Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina; while in London, he made his debut with a new production of R. Strauss’s Elektra, and subsequently conducted new productions of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, R. Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten, and Wagner’s Tannhäuser. He is also an annual guest at the Royal Opera House and holds honorary titles at the Royal Academy of Music and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He was named 2015’s Conductor of the Year by the International Opera Awards.