As Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Czech Philharmonic, Semyon Bychkov released a statement on the ensemble's website, publicly announcing his views on the unfolding Russia and Ukraine crisis. In it, he criticizes Russia's military invasion and expresses that it pains him "to see how Russia is unable or maybe unwilling to escape its dark past."
Born in St. Petersburg in 1952, Bychkov acknowledges his heritage and explains that Russian culture is in his blood. "Russians are capable of endless sacrifice and endurance, and truly know the meaning of friendship, generosity and compassion, some of the best qualities present in human nature. Yet those qualities are systematically destroyed by the regime that governs their life on all levels..."
Leaving the former Soviet Union, Bychkov emigrated to the United States in 1975 and has lived in Europe since the mid-1980s. In the United States, he served as Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic, and in Europe, he was the Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris, Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, and Chief Conductor of the Dresden Semperoper.
He is one of the first in the classical music industry to make a public statement on Russia's military action against Ukraine, but parts of the public are already calling for venues like Carnegie Hall to cancel performances by pro-Russia musicians, like conductor Valery Gergiev.
Bychkov goes on to say that "to remain silent today is to betray our conscience and our values, and ultimately what defines the nobility of human nature."
Read the full statement below: