Dublin Virginal Manuscript

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Dublin Virginal Manuscript is an important anthology of keyboard music kept in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, where it has been since the 17th century under the present shelf-list TCD Ms D.3.29.


The Manuscript was probably purchased by Archbishop James Ussher, who from 1603 was sent to England on frequent voyages to buy books "to furnish the Library of the University of Dublin". The name "Dublin Virginal Manuscript" is modern, and there is no mention of any specific instrument for which the music was intended.


The manuscript, consisting of 72 pages, is contained in a small oblong volume 5.5 x 7.4 inches. At some time it was bound together with the Dallis Lute Book (of perhaps 1583), but the two volumes are in different hands and the collection of keyboard pieces forms a separate and independent manuscript.

The manuscript is undated and its 30 pieces are without titles apart from one, ascribed to a "Mastyre Taylere". All but four of the pieces are arrangements of popular song and dance tunes found in other, mainly continental sources, such as Tielman Susato, Adrian Le Roy and Pierre Phalèse the Elder. From these, together with stylistic evidence, the manuscript can be dated to circa 1570.

Most of the music is written in a neat hand on seven-line staves. That for the right hand is written with a c-clef placed on the first or second line from the bottom. Music for the left hand is written with an f-clef, usually placed on the fourth or fifth line from the bottom. All repetitions are copied out, even if there is no change in the music.

The Dublin Virginal Manuscript is important in the history of English keyboard music because of its date, being one of only five English secular keyboard sources that predate William Byrd's My Ladye Nevells Booke of 1591. It is also the second-oldest surviving English source (after the Mulliner Book) of early Almain tunes, of which it contains four. The Dublin Virginal Manuscript also represents an important step in the development of secular English keyboard music from around 1530 to its golden age in the late 16th century, with examples of developing counterpoint in some pieces.[1]


The titles following are taken from other sources with analogous tunes:

  1. Passing Measures Pavan
  2. Galliard to the Passing Measures Pavan
  3. Pavan "Mastyre Taylere"
  4. Galliard to the pavan before
  5. Pavan
  6. Galliard to the pavan before
  7. Pavan
  8. Galliard to the pavan before
  9. Variations on the romanesca
  10. Divisions on the Goodnight ground
  11. The Earl of Essex Measure
  12. Branle Hoboken
  13. Was not good King Solomon
  14. Dance
  15. Almande du prince
  16. Le Reprinse of the Almande du Prince
  17. Galliard
  18. Almande Le Pied de Cheval
  19. Almande Bruynsmedelijn
  20. L'homme armé alias Lumber me
  21. Pavan
  22. Galliard to the pavan before
  23. Galliard
  24. Like as the lark within the marleon's foot
  25. Turkeylony
  26. Pavan
  27. Galliard to the pavan before
  28. Dance
  29. Dance
  30. Variations on Chi passa

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [The History of Keyboard Music to 1700, Willi Apel, Hans Tischler, trans. Hans Tischler, pp. 251–3, Indiana University Press, 1997, ISBN 0-253-21141-7]

Further reading[edit]

  • The Dublin Virginal Manuscript by John Ward. Schott, & Co., London 1983. ISBN 978-0-901938-94-7
  • The Almain in Britain c. 1549 – c. 1675. A Dance Manual from Manuscript Sources by Ian Payne. Ashgate Publishing, Aldershot, 2003. ISBN 978-0-85967-965-7