Huguette Dreyfus

Huguette Dreyfus (30 November 1928 – 16 May 2016) was a French harpsichordist.

Dreyfus in May 2006


Pauline Huguette Dreyfus was born in Mulhouse, Alsace, France, on 30 November 1928 to Fernand and Marguerite Dreyfus. At age 4, she began piano lessons. With her cousin Nicole (later a famous lawyer), and also her older brother Pierre, she played duets and improvised, still a child. Her family was well off, her father an industrialist with factories in Mulhouse and Vichy.[1][2]

After WWII was declared, Jewish families were evacuated from the Alsace region. The Dreyfus family fled to Vichy, where young Pauline enrolled in the Clermont-Ferrand conservatory under a pseudonym, finishing her studies with a first prize in piano. She must have taken on students then, as she said later that she had started teaching at age 14. In December 1942, she, her brother, and her father escaped into Switzerland and settled in Geneva where they had relatives.[3]

In 1946, she began working with renowned piano teacher Lazare Lévy. In 1950, having learned that music historian Norbert Dufourcq was to give special classes on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (in recognition of the bicentennial of Bach's death) at the Conservatoire de Paris, she entered into the class and remained there for four years. In addition to her piano class, she also studied the harpsichord at the Académie Chigiana de Siena under Ruggero Gerlin, who was a student of the renowned harpsichordist Wanda Landowska.[2]

In 1958, Dreyfus won the Geneva international harpsichord competition, becoming a prominent figure of ancient Renaissance and Baroque music and of the revival of the harpsichord in France. Her favorite instrument was a harpsichord of Johann Heinrich Hemsch, an 18th-century harpsichord maker of German origin who worked in Paris. His best instruments are often compared to those made by Blanchet, another celebrated harpsichord maker.[citation needed]

Dreyfus taught at the Schola Cantorum, at the Sorbonne in Paris, and at the National Conservatory of Music and Dance of Lyon (CNSMD de Lyon). She also taught at the International Academy of Organ and old music of Saint-Maxima-la-Sainte-Baume, and at the Villecroze Academie de Musique.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Huguette Dreyfus (Harpsichord) - Short Biography". Bach Cantatas Website. 1928-11-30. Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  2. ^ a b "Death of Huguette Dreyfus". France Musique (in French). Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Harpsichordist Huguette Dreyfus and the French Early Music Revival". Semibrevity. 2016-11-27. Retrieved 2020-07-07.