Laurence Dreyfus, FBA (born 1952) is an award-winning musicologist and player of the viola da gamba who is currently University Lecturer and Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. He was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, and attended Cherry Hill High School West in New Jersey. He earned a B.A. at Yeshiva University, studied cello under Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School, and earned his Ph.D. in Musicology at Columbia University, where he studied with the distinguished Bach scholar Christoph Wolff. Commuting from New York, he studied viola da gamba with Wieland Kuijken, earning two diplomas from the Brussels Conservatoire, including its Diplome supérieur with Highest Distinction.
After teaching at Yale University, Stanford University, and The University of Chicago, he moved in 1995 to London to become Thurston Dart Professor of Performance Studies at King's College London and hold a Chair at the Royal Academy of Music (which that year elected him as an honorary member). In 2002, he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy for his musicological work.
Dreyfus is a noted scholar of both J. S. Bach and Richard Wagner. He has published three books with Harvard University Press: Bach's Continuo Group (1986), Bach and the Patterns of Invention (1996) (which won the Otto Kinkeldey Award for best book of the year from the American Musicological Society) and Wagner and the Erotic Impulse (2010).
As a performer, Dreyfus has made a number of solo and ensemble recordings, some of which have won major awards. As a soloist, he has recorded the viola da gamba sonatas of J.S. Bach, the Pièces de violes of Marin Marais,and Pièces de clavecin en concert of Jean-Philippe Rameau, all with harpsichordist Ketil Haugsand on the Simax label). He founded the viol consort Phantasm, which won one Gramophone Award in 1997 for their recording of Purcell's Fantasies and another in 2004 for its recording of Consorts by Orlando Gibbons; this disc was also a finalist for Gramophone's Record of the Year. Their 2005 CD "Four Temperaments," with Elizabethan music by William Byrd, Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger, Robert Parsons (composer) and Thomas Tallis was nominated for awards by Gramophone (magazine) and the BBC Music Magazine. The group has also recorded works by William Byrd, John Jenkins (composer), William Lawes, Richard Mico, Matthew Locke, and other composers, as well as Bach's Art of Fugue.
- Oxford Music Faculty Website
- News archive 2002: Music professor elected Fellow of the British Academy[dead link]
- Phantasm, Viol Consort