Toronto, Ontario, Canada

SOLD! to the gentleman from Toronto!
Italian Virginal from Zuckermann Kit, ca 1980

This virginal was built from the Zuckermann kit designed by David Way and William Post Ross. The builder was Jeanne Lamon, who is now music director of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, when she was a student in Boston. It was extensively refurbished by Claviers Baroques in 1999. The current owner is a Canadian who was recently accepted as a composition student at the Conservatoire in Paris. Since he expects to be in France for the next few years at least, he has decided to sell this one and acquire an instrument there.


The turned cedar stand was custom-made for this instrument by Claviers Baroques. Besides being much more handsome than the one that came with the kit is is absolutely solid -- no wobbles when you play. It is finished in linseed oil so a swipe of oil keeps it looking like new. By the way, it can be disassembled for transport -- handy if you are a frequent flyer or have a small vehicle.

Case is painted in blue milk paint with pine trim (false inner-outer) and music desk.

The keys are maple with blackwood sharps. The generous BB to e''' compass (54 notes) can be tuned to GG/BB short octave to give 58 useful notes, enough for most keyboard music of the 17th and 18th centuries. Sorry, you can't play the Bach's Chromatic Fantasy without adapting the bass a bit, but you can play all of his Well-Tempered and the Brandenburgs. The Virginal books (see below) all fit, as do most of the Scarlatti sonatas -- that's over 500 sonatas, which should keep you busy for a while. Even a lot of the late French works will fit on it with a bit of retuning. Den recommends the Rameau solo keyboard works. For instance, Rameau liked the key of A and A minor, so you will need a low A for a lot of the final cords. Den retunes the otherwise unused low C# to an A or plays the final A an octave higher.

This instrument is in very good condition, excellent tone and action, full-voiced, a professional quality instrument. Maestro Hervé Niquet, founder and conductor of Le Concert Spirituel (Paris, France) has conducted from it in the pit of the Elgin Theatre for Opera Atelier and regularly uses it as a room instrument when he is visiting Toronto. It is excellent in a small ensemble and its range of timbres make it an excellent accompaniment instrument. In small venues it can serve as the entire orchestra; it has been used in this capacity for Opera Barrie's production of Pergolesi's La Serva Padrona and by Theatre Passe Murraille for original incidental music composed by John Gzowski.

A virginal plucks near the middle of the string so the sound is full and resonant. The low, mid, and high ranges each gave a distinct timbre which accentuates the interplay among the lines of polyphonic music. The bass is particularly plummy on this one. Downside: the jacks' return in the bass is complicated by the moving string, sometimes causing a buzzing sound, so sustained bass notes work better than trills. But seriously, how often do you play sixteenth notes in the bass?

sound samples:

The English Virginalists took full advantage of the virginal's 'consort-in-a box' effect, using the contrasting sounds to accentuate the lines of their polyphonic music. It is, of course, the ideal instrument for the virginal books such as the Fitzwilliam, My Lady Rogers, Lady Neville's and Parthenia. These books are easily available in modern editions (really! Wal-Mart lists the Fitzwilliam!)


The jacks are Zuckermann pattern in white Delrin™ with Celcon™ plectra. All are in excellent condition, but if replacements are ever required spares are available from us and also directly from Zuckermann.

Like any fine instrument, this virginal can be expected to keep its value and to appreciate if well-maintained. Speaking of which, this instrument has been professionally maintained by us for years. It is currently in *excellent* condition. If you like we can arrange a maintenance plan for you as well, either by us or by a colleague in your area. A supply of spare wire, a tuning wrench and a small Seiko tuner are included.

Price: asking $7,780 CAD / $6,350 USD /$73,250 MXN / £ 3,500 GBP / € 5 000 / ¥ 676,000 JPY plus shipping from Toronto Canada and applicable taxes & duties. Built in USA so duty-free to USA, Canada and Mexico. more info, bigger pictures. Interested? E-mail Claviers Baroques or give us a call toll-free in North America at 1-888-597-0946.

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