Semyon Bikhov ends his term as music director of the Czech Philharmonic

Semyon Bikhov is set to end his tenure as Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic in the 2027-28 season.

In a statement, “It’s been a remarkable season in every possible way, even if it’s still ongoing with huge projects yet to come. I’ll come back to that later, but first I’d like to talk to you about some of the very special events we have planned for next season.”

Bichov added: “It is still the Year of Czech Music and it will end with the release of Dvořák’s last three symphonies and three tone poems. As you know, our recording of Má vlast was released 6 weeks ago and received a rare unanimous approval. In the same spirit of Czech music, we will end 2024 with three concerts at Carnegie Hall (a very rare privilege given only to the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics) and 2 concerts in Toronto: Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass with our own choir, Mahler 5th Symphony , three poems from Má vlast and all 3 Dvořák concerts will become a celebration of Czech musical culture and heritage. These concerts will be followed later by residencies in London, Vienna, Paris, Amsterdam and Bruges. They will focus on the music of Mahler, Shostakovich and Mozart.

He added: “Here in Prague, we will combine (not in the same performance!) two huge masterpieces that are so connected spiritually: Bach’s Mass in C minor and Mahler’s 8th Symphony. Mahler’s performances will bring us to the completion of the recording cycle of his symphonies, which will take 7 years to complete. Now let me go back to the most recent tours in Korea, Japan and Europe. I don’t remember ever getting such a positive intensity and unanimity of reaction for every single performance as we got on this tour. The audience loved our Dvořák. They clearly felt the orchestra’s identification with its music, its performing tradition and the joyous personality it exudes both on and off the stage. People clearly felt that Dvořák’s music was shared with them with an authentic spirit so unique that it could only be conveyed by the Czech Philharmonic. You can’t imagine the joy and pride I felt from my colleagues living for every note, every phrase, every moment of every performance. There was not a single concert that I would call poor quality. Not once did the fatigue associated with the hardships and challenges of the journey affect the performance.”

Bikhov concluded by announcing that he would leave the orchestra feeling that he had accomplished his mission. He said: “Watching it while being a part of it has led me to the conclusion that the dream I had when I started conducting this orchestra 6 years ago – the dream of the Czech Philharmonic being part of the small group that makes up the world’s orchestral elite and by making sure that the world knows and recognizes him – that dream has been realized. When I was first asked by the musicians to become their next music director, after the untimely death of the beloved Jiří Bělohlávek, they also asked me to become their dad. And what is the mission of every dad? To help her children grow up well, secure and independent so that they can eventually become free. Like birds that get their wings to fly. This is what is happening, and much faster than any of us ever expected. This led me to the happy conclusion that my mission was accomplished. When this became clear, it was only natural that in 2028, after 10 years leading this orchestra, the time would come for me to step down as its principal conductor and music director.”

Since becoming music director of the Czech Philharmonic in 2018, he has recorded the Mahler cycle for PENTATONE and conducted numerous performances of works by Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, Strauss, Schumann and Beethoven. He has also commissioned 14 new works, nine from Czech composers and five commissions from international composers.

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