American-born English Bach scholar and viol player, Laurence Dreyfus, was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, and attended Cherry Hill High School West in New Jersey. He earned his Bachelor of Art dgree from Yeshiva University in New York City, studied cello under Leonard Rose, at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, later reading Musicology at the Columbia University (Ph.D.). Commuting from New York, he studied viol with Wieland Kuijken, earning two Diplome supérieur from the Royal Conservatoire in Brussels.
Laurence Dreyfus taught at Yale, the University of Chicago, Stanford, and the Royal Academy of Music before becoming in 1995 Thurston Dart Professor of the Faculty of Music at King's College London, where he taught music history and performance. In 2002 he took British citizenship and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. In 2005 he moved to Oxford University where he is Professor of Music and a Fellow of Magdalen College, along with the Organist, Informator Choristarum and Fellow in Music, Daniel Hyde.
Laurence Dreyfus is a noted scholar of both J. S. Bach and Richard Wagner. He has published three books under Harvard University Press: Bach's Continuo Group (1986), Bach and the Patterns of Invention (1996) (which won the Kinkeldey Award from the American Musicological Society for the best book of the year) and Wagner and the Erotic Impulse (2010).
Laurence Dreyfus is also an expert performer. He founded the viol consort Phantasm, which went on to win a Gramophone Award in 1997 for their performance of Purcell's Fantasies. As a bass viol player, he has recorded CDs of J.S. Bach's Viola da gamba sonatas (BWV 1027-1029), Marais's Pièces de violes and Rameau's Pièces de clavecin en concert (all on Simax), and collaborated with Sylvia McNair in a Grammy-winning album of Purcell songs (on Philips).