Semyon Bychkov to Conduct Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra for the first time


A Leningrader born and bred, and representative of the Ilya Musin school of conducting, in 1973 SemyonBychkov, aged 21, was awarded lst prize at the All-Union Rachmaninov Conductors’ Competition and was invited to join the Leningrad Philharmonia Symphony Orchestra. However his talent really came into its own after he went abroad in the hope of acquiring freedom of choice and, in this, he was very successful.

Having graduated from New York’s famous Mannes College of Music, Semyon Bychkov was appointed Music Director of Michigan’s Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and from the mid-1980s, having made his debut at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, his European career took off.

t the present time Semyon Bychkov holds the Otto Klemperer Chair of Conducting studies at the Royal Academy of Music, in London. An acknowledged conductor of opera, he is demand at the world’s leading opera-houses. In 1989, he was appointed Music Director of L’Orchestre de Paris and from 1998-2010, he headed one of Germany’s best symphony orchestras — the Köln WDR Sinfonieorchester, and with this ensemble he made a series of award-winning CDs and DVDs which won high praise from critics.

Since completing his 13-year tenure with the Köln WDR Sinfonieorchester, the maestro has been working as guest conductor with the world’s most prestigious orchestras (the Berlin and Munich Philharmonic orchestras, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw, the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig’s Gewandhausorchester, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra), and he celebrated his 60th birthday by conducting concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Vienna and Tel-Aviv.

His symphony repertoire includes the symphonies of Mozart, Brahms, Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, Richard Strauss. Critics have noted his impeccable conducting technique, the breadth of his vision, his ability to reveal the stylistic characteristics of the works he conducts. Semyon Bychkov has appeared more than once in Moscow and Petersburg, however this is his first appearance at the Bolshoi.

A Hundred Years of Russian Music might be an apt description of the concert programme: works by Glinka, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich written in the period 1856-1957, belonging to different ages and genres, but revealing the undoubted superiority of the national traditions of Russian music.

The soloist in the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini will be Kirill Gerstein. Born in Voronezh, Gerstein completed his musical education in the States (at Boston’s Berklee College and New York’s Manhattan School of Music), he then continued his studies in Madrid with Professor Dmitri Bashkirov. At the present time he is a professor of piano at Stuttgart’s Musikhochschule. He was lst Prize winner at the 2001 Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition, and is a holder of the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award (2010) and of a 2010 Avery Fisher Grant. Kirill Gerstein appears at leading concert venues in Europe and the States; one of the pianist’s last recordings (together with viola player Tabea Zimmerman) won the Diapason D’Or prize (France).

The concert will wind up with Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11 (1905). Written on the 40th anniversary of the October Revolution (1957) the symphony, with virtually cinematographic accuracy, reveals the tragic chain of events leading to Bloody Sunday — the firing upon a peaceful workers’ demonstration on 9 January 1905 in St. Petersburg which changed the course of Russian history. Shostakovich draws on quotes from revolutionary songs and from his own Ten Choral Poems to Verses by Revolutionary Poets. However the underlying idea of this opus can be interpreted in a much broader fashion — as a clash between Man and the aggressive element of violence and inner resistance to it.

Future concerts in the Great Conductors at the Bolshoi
cycle: Yuri Temirkanov (06.03.15) and Gennady Rozhdestevensky (31.03.15).