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Czech Philharmonic with Semyon Bychkov

Czech Philharmonic with Semyon Bychkov

Czech Philharmonic

The Czech Philharmonic has an illustrious heritage. Dvořák conducted the orchestra in its inaugural performance on 4 January 1896 at the Rudolfinum, the stunning venue on the banks of the Vltava which is still home to its Prague concerts, and now also the centre for its Orchestral Academy. The Academy is just one of numerous successful outreach projects, including competitions for soloists and composers, through which the Czech Philharmonic shares its passion and artistry with people of all ages and backgrounds, preparing the way for the next generation of both performers and audience alike.
Great conductors are a theme in the orchestra’s history. Gustav Mahler conducted the Czech Philharmonic for the world premiere of his Symphony No. 7 in Prague in 1908. The orchestra’s international reputation grew under the direction of Václav Talich, the energetic leadership of Rafael Kubelík helped steer the Czech Philharmonic through the difficult wartime years, and in the post-war era of Karel Ančerl it embarked on a busy touring schedule. Following a period of varied fortunes after the Velvet Revolution, today a rejuvenated Czech Philharmonic orchestra is heard at the most prestigious concert halls and festivals, including the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London, concerts at the Philharmonie in Berlin, a residency at the Musikverein in Vienna, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Carnegie Hall in New York and the NCPA in Beijing.
The Czech Philharmonic has received numerous awards and nominations, including ten Grands Prix du Disque de l’Académie Charles-Cros, five Grand Prix du Disque de l’Académie française, several Cannes Classical Awards, a position in Gramophone’s Top 20 Best Orchestras in the World (2008), as well as nominations for Grammy and Gramophone Awards. A concert performance of Martinů’s What men live by was nominated for a 2015 International Opera Award.

Music Director: Semyon Bychkov

Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, Semyon Bychkov was born in Leningrad in 1952, immigrated to the United States in 1975, and has been based in Europe since the mid-1980s. Like the Czech Philharmonic, Bychkov has one foot firmly in the cultures both of the East and the West.

Following his early concerts with the Czech Philharmonic in 2013, Bychkov and the Orchestra devised The Tchaikovsky Project, a series of concerts, residencies and studio recordings which allowed them the luxury of exploring Tchaikovsky’s music together. Its first fruit was released by Decca in October 2016, followed in August 2017 by the release of the Manfred symphony. The project culminates in 2019 with residencies in Prague, Vienna and Paris, and Decca’s release of all Tchaikovsky’s symphonies, the three piano concertos, Romeo & Juliet, Serenade for Strings and Francesca da Rimini.
Fourteen years after leaving the former Soviet Union, Bychkov returned to St Petersburg in 1989 as the Philharmonic’s Principal Guest Conductor, the same year as he was named Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris. His international career had taken off several years earlier when a series of high-profile cancellations resulted in invitations to conduct the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. In 1997, he was appointed Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, and the following year, Chief Conductor of the Dresden Semperoper.
Bychkov’s recording career began in 1986 when he signed with Philips and began a significant collaboration which produced an extensive discography with the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio, Royal Concertgebouw, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic and Orchestre de Paris. Subsequently a series of benchmark recordings – the result of his 13-year collaboration (1997–2010) with the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne – include a complete cycle of Brahms’s Symphonies, and works by Strauss, Mahler, Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, Verdi, Detlev Glanert and York Höller. His recording of Wagner’s Lohengrin was voted BBC Music Magazine’s Record of the Year in 2010; and his recent recording of Schmidt’s Symphony No. 2with the Vienna Philharmonic was selected as BBC Music Magazine’s Record of the Month.