Childhood and studies in Russia
Bychkov was born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) to Jewish parents. His younger brother was Yakov Kreizberg, also a conductor. Bychkov studied at the Glinka Choir School for ten years before moving to the Leningrad Conservatory where he was a student of Ilya Musin. While at the Conservatory, Bychkov played volleyball for the Leningrad Dynamos. In 1973 he won the Rachmaninov Conducting Competition, but was denied the usual prize of conducting the Leningrad Philharmonic by the authorities after he applied for an exit visa. His family had suffered from official antisemitism and after expressing views critical of the Soviet regime he decided to leave the country in 1974, going first to Vienna with only $100 in funds.
Studies and career in the United States
In 1975, at age 22, he left Vienna and emigrated to the United States. Bychkov attended and graduated the Mannes School of Music and was director of the Mannes College Orchestra. From 1980 to 1985, Semyon Bychkov served as music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and as principal guest conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. He made his debut conducting Carmen at the New York City Opera on September 30, 1981 (the run of 6 performances were his only appearances with that company). On 4 July 1983, he became a United States citizen. In 1985, he became music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic and held that post until 1989. During his time in Grand Rapids and Buffalo, Bychkov came to international attention. following a series of high-profile cancellations in 1984 and 1985 that resulted in invitations to conduct the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He was subsequently signed to a 10-year recording contract with Philips Classics Records, and made his debut recording conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5.
Career in Europe
From 1989 to 1998, Bychkov was music director of the Orchestre de Paris. He became Principal Guest Conductor of the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra in 1990, Principal Guest Conductor of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in 1992, Chief Conductor of Dresden's Semperoper in 1998 and chief conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne in 1997. He remained in Cologne until 2010, during which time he made a series of recordings including Brahms' Symphonies No. 1–4, Shostakovich's Symphonies Nos. 4, 7, 8, 10 and 11, Mahler's Symphony No. 3, Rachmaninov's The Bells and Symphonic Dances, Richard Strauss' Ein Heldenleben and Eine Alpensinfonie, Verdi's Requiem, as well as Strauss' Elektra, Daphne and Wagner's Lohengrin which won BBC Music Magazine's Record of the Year 2010.
Bychkov made his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2003 with a new production of Elektra, and returned later that year to conduct Boris Godunov. In 2012, he assumed the newly created Günter Wand Conducting Chair with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, a post specially created for him. He holds the Otto Klemperer Chair of Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
In 2013, Bychkov first guest-conducted the Czech Philharmonic. With the orchestra, Bychkov is director of its Tchaikovsky Project. In October 2017, the Czech Philharmonic announced the appointment of Bychkov as its next chief conductor and music director, effective with the 2018-2019 season.
- Duchen, Jessica (25 March 2010). "Interview: Semyon Bychkov". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 16 September 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Wroe, Nicholas (22 November 2012). "Semyon Bychkov: beating time". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 June 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Donal Henahan, "City Opera: Patricia Miller as Carmen," New York Times (Oct. 2, 1981).
- Anne Midgette (22 January 2004). "For a Russian Masterpiece, A Russian-Born Maestro". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-03. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Kubelik Out Of Concerts". New York Times. 1984-02-29. Retrieved 2017-11-12. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- James Barron (1986-02-23). "The Music World Is Watching Him". New York Times. Retrieved 2017-11-12. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Royal Academy of Music website: Klemperer Chair of Conducting Studies
- Shostakovich Symphony No. 5, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Semyon Bychkov, Philips, Gramophone Magazine Online, March 1987[permanent dead link]
- Terry Grimley (1 January 2009). "Semyon Bychkov: Eclectic Dreams". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2009-01-03. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Martin Cullingford (2017-10-16). "Semyon Bychkov to take top job at Czech Philharmonic". Gramophone. Retrieved 2017-10-17. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "News - New Staff Members" (Press release). Royal Academy of Music. 14 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-17. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Honours". Royal Academy of Music. Retrieved 2021-01-07.
- Fox, Sue. "Relative Values: Semyon Bychkov, conductor, and his wife, Marielle Labèque, pianist". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2021-01-07.
- BBC Music Magazine online - Review: Strauss - Eine Alpensinfonie & Till Eulenspiegels 
- BBC Music Magazine online - Review: Verdi, Requiem
- BBC Music Magazine - Review: Elektra
- Semyon Bychkov official website
- Semyon Bychkov at AllMusic
- Article 'Semyon Bychkov - The Maestro of Cologne'
- MusicalCriticism.com, Interview: Semyon Bychkov on returning to Covent Garden for Lohengrin, 25 April 2009
- Los Angeles Philharmonic page on Semyon Bychkov
- Interview with Semyon Bychkov, November 28, 1988
| Music Director, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
| Principal Conductor, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne