Professor Laurence Dreyfus

Laurence Dreyfus was born in Boston, Mass. (USA), and is a noted interpreter of Johann Sebastian Bach, both as a scholar and performer. His other interests include English consort music of the 16th and 17th centuries and the works of Richard Wagner. As an historian and analyst, Dreyfus has published Bach’s Continuo Group as well as Bach and the Patterns of Invention (Harvard University Press, 1987 and 1996), the latter of which won the Otto Kinkeldey Award from the American Musicological Society for the best book of the year. His most recent monograph is Wagner and the Erotic Impulse (Harvard University Press, 2010). As a bass viol player, he has recorded CDs of Bach’s viola da gamba sonatas of Marais’ Pièces de violes and Rameau’s Pièces de clavecin en concert (all with Ketil Haugsand on the Simax label).

In 1994, Dreyfus founded Phantasm, a consort of viols, whose debut recording of Purcell’s Viol Fantasies won a 1997Gramophone Award. Seven further Phantasm CDs (on Simax, EMI, GMN, and Channel Classics) were devoted to works by Byrd, Mico, Locke, and Lawes, alongside a rendition of Bach’s Art of Fugue. Phantasm’s disc of Orlando Gibbons’s Consorts (AVIE) won the 2004 Gramophone Award and was a finalist for Record of the Year. Since then they issued 19 further recordings of English consort music which have garnered critical acclaim worldwide.  Most recently, Phantasm won the 2017 Diapason d’or de l’année and the 2017 Gramophone Prize (Early Music) for their recording of Dowland’s Lachrimae. (

Dreyfus holds a PhD in musicology from Columbia University in New York, where he studied under noted Bach scholar Christoph Wolff. He studied cello at the Juilliard School in New York with Leonard Rose, and viol at the Royal Conservatoire with Wieland Kuijken at Brussels, which awarded him its Diplome supérieur with highest distinction. Dreyfus taught at Yale, Chicago and Stanford universities moving to London where he held a Chair at the Royal Academy of Music and King’s College London as the Thurston Dart Professor of Performance Studies. He was elected an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music in 1995 and (for his musicological work) a Fellow of the British Academy in 2002. From 2005-2010, Phantasm was Consort-in-Residence in the University, and then from 2010 until 2015 Consort-in-Residence at Magdalen College. He retired from his teaching posts in Oxford in 2015 and relocated to Berlin where he pursues independent research and continues to play and tour internationally with Phantasm. In 2018 he was named a Fellow of the Institut d’Études avancées to develop his work on historically-informed music analysis.

Musicologist and viol player. Research interests in 18th- and 19th-century music, especially JS Bach and Wagner; English consort music; theories of analysis; and performance studies.