Sylvia Goulston Dreyfus

November 12, 1893–September 14, 1942

by Micole Abdelhak
Last updated

In Brief

Sylvia Goulston Dreyfus contributed greatly to her Boston community, mainly through her passion for music. She was a trustee of the New England Conservatory of Music, an honorary chair of the Boston committee of the Palestine Orchestra Fund Inc., and president of the Hecht Neighborhood house and worked on the Berkshire Music Festival. 

Sylvia Goulston Dreyfus was born in Boston on November 12, 1893, to Mr. and Mrs. Edward Goulston. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1914. Her passion for music was the driving factor in many of her pursuits. She was a trustee of the New England Conservatory of Music, one of the most prestigious independent music conservatories in the United States. She was on the advisory board of the Berkshire Music Festival and an honorary chair of the Boston committee of the Palestine Orchestra Fund Inc., now known as the Israeli Philharmonic. She published many articles on music, as well as interviews she conducted with musicians for national periodicals. Her “Conversation With Koussevitzky” was the most notable of these interviews; a conductor, composer, and double-bassist, Koussevitzky served as the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1924 until 1949. She also published an article in Liberty Magazine on Dorothy Maynor; Maynor, who was Black, was one of the most desired and highest paid singers in symphonic and recital concerts at the time but never performed on the opera stage because of racism.   

Dreyfus’s identity as a creative was not limited to her musical inclination. She was also a skilled sculptor focusing mainly on portrait busts, including one of Koussevitzky. 

In addition to these artistic pursuits, Dreyfus wrote a collection of essays for English studies, was on the advisory board of the Berkshire Festival, served as the chair of the Brittany Coffee Shop, and served as president of the Hecht Neighborhood house, a trade school for young female immigrants.  

She was married to Carl Dreyfus, a member on the board of trustees at the Boston City Hosptial. The couple had three children: Carl Dreyfus, Jr., Lieut. Edward G Dreyfus, and Mrs. Charles F. Haas.   

Overtaken by sickness during the six months prior, Dreyfus passed away in Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital on September 14, 1942, at the age of 49.  

Selected Works by Sylvia Goulston Dreyfus

“The Artist on Tour: Conversations with Schnabel.” Harper’s Bazaar, 18, 2 (May 1938). 

“And Ring from All the Trees: Koussevitzky in the Berkshires.” Harper's Bazaar, 18, 2753 (July 1941). 

“Notes of Conducting: Conversations with Koussevitzky.” Boston Symphony Orchestra concert program, Subscription Series, Season 56 (1936-1937), Week 7. 

Bibliography

“Boston YMHA-Hecht House.” Boston YMHA-Hecht House - Social Networks and Archival Context. Accessed February 26, 2023. https://snaccooperative.org/view/74557748.  

“The Concise Dictionary of American Jewish Biography.” Accessed February 27, 2023. https://www.americanjewisharchives.org/wp-content/uploads/d-aja-concise-dictionary.pdf

Daniel, Peggy. Tanglewood: A Group Memoir. New York: Amadeus Press, 2009. 

“Death of Mrs. Carl Dreyfus.” Boston Globe, September 15, 1942, p. 38. 

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How to cite this page

Abdelhak, Micole. "Sylvia Goulston Dreyfus." Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women. 10 May 2023. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on May 20, 2024) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/dreyfus-sylvia-goulston>.