Laurence Dreyfus

Laurence Dreyfus, treble viol and director of Phantasm, was born into a family of musicians, and was taught to read music before he could read English. His talents led him to the prestigious Juilliard School in New York where he studied cello with the legendary American cellist Leonard Rose. At Juilliard he helped found what later became the Emerson String Quartet. Leaving the conservatoire to pursue more academic studies in politics and theology, he soon found his way back to music by studying for a PhD in musicology at Columbia University where he was supervised by leading Bach scholar, Christoph Wolff. At the same time, Laurence started teaching himself the viola da gamba, and ultimately landed in the class of Wieland Kuijken at the Royal Conservatoire in Brussels, where he completed two diplomas in performance within two years, the last ‘with highest distinction’. 

A dual career as musicologist and performer took him all over the world to research music history, perform concerts, give lectures and performance classes. As a scholar and lecturer, Laurence held professorships at Yale, Stanford, Chicago, King’s College London, and most recently at Oxford University and Magdalen College. In 2002 his academic research on Bach and Wagner was recognised by a Fellowship in the British Academy.

Phantasm was formed in 1994 and was aimed from the start to challenge the status quo by developing a rich and vibrant sound based on historically aware practices, technical mastery of string playing, and borrowings from the expressive traditions of early 20th-century String Quartets like the Flonzaley and Busch. For a decade from 2005-2015 Phantasm was Consort-in-Residence at Oxford University and in Magdalen College. Nowadays Dreyfus is honoured with Emeritus status in both College and University.

After nearly 25 years in Britain, Laurence decided to make his home in Berlin, where he continues to explore, perform and record new repertories, bringing them to music-lovers round the world.