Yakov Kreizberg was a naturalized American conductor and pianist, born in Russia with the name Yakov Bychkov. A piano prodigy at age 5, he began composing by 13 and took up conducting lessons with Ilya Musin around the same time. When he emigrated to the United States in 1976, he was unable to bring his compositions with him, so out of frustration with Soviet policies, he gave up composing entirely and dedicated himself to conducting full-time.
Once settled in the United States, Kreizberg entered the Mannes College The New School for Music, where he studied with his brother, conductor Semyon Bychkov. (Kreizberg adopted his mother's maiden name shortly after graduation, to differentiate himself from his brother). Following graduate work at the University of Michigan with Gustav Meier, Kreizberg studied with Erich Leinsdorf, Seiji Ozawa,Leonard Bernstein, and Michael Tilson Thomas, becoming the latter's assistant at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute. In 1985, he returned to Mannes College to direct the school's orchestra and also conducted the New York City Symphony's concerts.
Having dual careers in conducting orchestral concerts and opera, Kreizberg served as general music director of the United Municipal Theaters of Krefeld-Mönchengladbach and as conductor of the Niederrheinische Sinfoniker. At the Berlin Comic Opera, he oversaw productions of standard repertoire as well as revivals of forgotten operas, and conducted many heavily attended concerts. He went on to conduct operas at Glyndebourne, the Canadian Opera Company, the English National Opera,Chicago Lyric Opera, and the Royal Opera House. His concert activities included performances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra, where he conducted Mahler's Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection," to critical acclaim. Additionally, Kreizberg appeared in the United States with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic.
After 2003, Kreizberg was chief conductor and artistic adviser of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, as well as principle guest conductor of theVienna Symphony Orchestra. He recorded for Decca and PentaTone Classics. Yakov Kreizberg died on March 15, 2011, in Monaco at age 51, following a long illness.