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The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book

London, early 17th century

Bequeathed by Viscount Fitzwilliam in 1816

Contains nearly 300 pieces for song and dance

MU.MS.168

 

According to Suzanne Reynolds, Assistant Keeper in the Department of Manuscripts and Printed Books, this was once known as Queen Elizabeth I's Virginal Book. This volume is one of the most important treasures in the music collection bequeathed by Viscount Fitzwilliam (1745-1816), and is the richest anthology of sixteeth- and early seventeenth century English Keyboard music in existence. The Fitzwilliam Virginal contains nearly three hundred works dating between 1562 and 1612. It represents thirty of the greatest composers of the time, including John Bull, Orlando Gibbons, and Wiliam Byrd. It was copied out by hand onto beautiful handmade paper, and the manuscript is still in its original binding of leather with gold decoration. 

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