Laurence Dreyfus, Professor Emeritus at the University of Oxford, has held teaching positions at Yale, the University of Chicago, Stanford, the Royal Academy of Music and King’s College London. He is the author of three monographs: Bach’s Continuo Group (1987), Bach and the Patterns of Invention (1996), and Wagner and the Erotic Impulse (2010), all published by Harvard University Press. The second of these was supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship and won the Otto Kinkeldey Award from the American Musicological Society for the best book of the year. In 2002 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. As a performer Dreyfus leads the viol consort Phantasm (www.phantasm.org.uk) which tours internationally and, for its recordings of English consort music, has won three Gramophone Prizes (1997, 2004, 2017) and the Diapason d’or de l’année (2017). In 2015 he relocated to Berlin to devote more time to performance and research.
Johann Sebastian Bach and Richard Wagner, music analysis, historical performance practice, performance studies, music and theories of metaphor.
Historically informed musical analysis: Structuralist paradigms in English consort music of the early 17th century
In this project I’ll be extending my analytical work on J.S. Bach to polyphonic works for viol consort by Orlando Gibbons and other English composers, trying to apply historically appropriate theories of composition to the analysis of this music to show how it acquires its considerable affective and emotive power. The method I’ve been developing bases itself as much as possible on historical sources which take a different view of musical structure from typical modes of musical analysis which all derive from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and are generally more concerned with the order of events rather than the quality and variability of musical ideas. The earlier approach - seen in something like Christopher Simpson’s notion of a ‘platform of composition’ evokes in my own work some remarkable affinities to French structuralism, which itself can help refine the way we understand this complex but very beautiful music from the 17th century.