Breaking: Russian maestro condemns invasion of Ukraine

Breaking: Russian maestro condemns invasion of Ukraine


norman lebrecht

February 24, 2022

The international conductor Semyon Bychkov, music director of the Czech Philharmonic, has issued a statement in Prague recalling past Russian invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

Bychkov said: ‘Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the lies that are being spread about it must be stopped before the rest of the world finds itself in the middle of another war. We must not remain silent and watch as history repeats itself as in 1956, 1968 and beyond. The bearers of death and destruction must be held accountable and rejected.’

The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra has hung the yellow-blue national flag of Ukraine on its Rudolfinum building.




  • The View from America says:


  • Music fan says:

    It’s a relief to know that Bychkov has learned the lessons of history as it pertains to how performers and interpreters react to despotic regimes. Doubtless, his career in Russia will be affected by this. But Bychkov obviously feels it’s worth the price.

    • Allen says:

      “his career in Russia will be affected by this” … just asking here, but does he really conduct in Russia? I’m not aware. For instance, did he have any recent or upcoming engagements there?

    • MacroV says:

      Bychkov has been in the West since the late 1970s, I believe. I don’t know what connection he still has to Russia; not much of a professional one, I believe. But every voice counts, so good for him and Czech Philharmonic.

  • Rudiger says:

    Bravo, maestro!

  • Harpist says:

    See VPO, that’s how it is done.

  • wiener says:

    Wichtigtuer aus der 3. Reihe

  • Anon says:

    One of the world’s finest conductors and a man of honor. Bravo.

  • Sisko24 says:

    May I suggest that if it is in your means and wherewithal, buy a Czech Philharmonic CD, subscribe to their online sites, buy tickets to any of their upcoming concerts near you featuring Maestro Bychov or any other conductor. And if you have Facebook or e-mail access, go onto their site(s) and tell them you support this and other related acts.

  • Tamino says:

    For those many armchair freedom fighters in the west, comparing Apples with Oranges, Bychkov with Gergiev:
    Bychkov emigrated from the Soviet Union to the west in 1974 at the age of 22. Gergiev always lived in Russia and is the General Director of an Opera Company in St.Petersburg with responsibility for over 1.000 employees.
    Doesn’t mean one has to beat the war drum, but does also mean that one needs to weigh one’s words more diplomatically.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      It’s a well known fact that Gergiev has been included in Putin’s inner circle for years now. He had his chances to make his break from Putin. Instead, he chose not to. You sew what you reap (whatever that stupid saying is).

      • Aged Listener says:

        That ‘stupid saying’ is in the Bible, Galatians 6:7, ‘Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.’

    • MacroV says:

      Gergiev can walk away from the Maryinsky today and tomorrow he’d be booked solid around the world for the next five years. Or if he wants to stay for the good of the theatre and its people, just do fewer photo ops.

    • Wurtfangler says:

      And under Putin we again see artists having to escape Russia, as Bychkov had to leave the USSR as a young man.

      Gergiev is an unapologetic supporter of Putin, not quietly, but loudly and publicly. He should now bear the consequences and his career outside Russia should be finished.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    The more I learn about Bychkov, both musically and otherwise, the more I like this man.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Listen to videos on YouTube – he is a great conductor. There’s a Tchaik V, a Brahms III, both great performances.

  • Wurtfangler says:

    Bychkov is a great man and one of the greatest living musicians.

    There are some artists remaining in Russia with integrity and principals:

    You will not hear Gergiev call Putin out for what he is. Shame on the VPO, and shame on any Western organization who continues to be associated with him.

    I write as someone who was hugely inspired by him years ago to study in St Petersburg with Ilya Musin.

  • Maria says:

    Thought the Northern Ireland situation in the UK was bad enough, and it’s still not sorted out properly. Many Russians simply won’t go along with this war started this morning by Putin. That and the NI situation all so unnecessary.

  • Placido says:

    Great!! I’m sure the Russians will now hack his cell phone and email. But this is a very strong and supportive gesture that other world famous musicians should make

  • Frank Flambeau says:

    He will soon get a top job in the USA. Either NYC or Chicago.

  • Donn Rutkoff says:

    How bizarre that 77 years after Hitler, another madman starts a war. A

  • Donn Rutkoff says:

    And 2 prominent artists Netrebko and Gergiev are in the mad inner circle. I never thought I’d see a day like this.