Professor Laurence Dreyfus

College appointment: Emeritus Fellow



Laurence Dreyfus grew up near Philadelphia (USA) and studied cello at the Juilliard School (New York), viola da gamba at the Royal Conservatoire (Brussels), and musicology at Columbia University (New York) which he took his PhD. He taught at leading North American universities, including Yale, the University of Chicago and Stanford before coming to Britain in 1992 to take up a Chair in Performance Studies at King’s College London in association with the Royal Academy of Music. In 2005 he joined Magdalen to become a Tutorial Fellow in Music. His world-renowned viol consort Phantasm has been consort-in-residence at Magdalen since 2010 where they teach students the viol, make award-winning recordings and collaborate with Magdalen College Choir. Dreyfus been an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music since 1995 and a Fellow of the British Academy since 2002. He was awarded the DLitt (Oxon) in 2013. He retired from Magdalen College in 2015.

Research Interests

Dreyfus is internationally recognised as a leading interpreter of JS Bach, with two books to his credit, one on historical performance practice, the other on the historically informed analysis of Bach’s music. More recently, he has written on Richard Wagner, and research from his book on Wagner and musical eroticism has figured on programmes heard on BBC Radio 3 and 4 as well as on German television channels 3SAT and the Franco-German Arte. Dreyfus’s practice-based research is connected to his activities as a performer of Early Music, in particular as director of Phantasm, who have issued 15 CD recordings and continue to explore the rich tradition of instrumental chamber music in 16th- and 17th-century England, from William Byrd to Henry Purcell. Phantasm has been named early music ensemble in residence in the Wigmore Hall for the 2016/2017 concert season. Dreyfus also writes on the interaction of historical research with musical performance, and the role of conceptual metaphors in musical experience.

Selected Publications