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Virginalist denotes a composer of the so-called virginalist school, and usually refers to the English keyboard composers of the late Tudor and early Jacobean periods. The term does not appear to have been applied earlier than the 19th century. Although the virginals was among the most popular keyboard instruments of this period, there is no evidence that the composers wrote exclusively for this instrument, and their music is equally suited to the harpsichord, the clavichord or the chamber organ.
The term is sometimes also applied to other northern European composers of this period, such as Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and Samuel Scheidt.
- Glyn, Margaret H. (1916-17). "The National School of Virginal Music in Elizabethan Times". Proceedings of the Musical Association: 29-49. JSTOR 765612.
- Charles Van den Borren, Les origines de la musique de clavier en Angleterre, Brussels, 1912 (Reprint : Louvain, 1979)
- Walter Niemann, Die Virginalmusik, Leipzig, 1919
- Margaret Glyn, About Elizabethan Virginal Music and its Composers, London, 1924 (revised 1934)
- R.L. Adams, The Development of Keyboard Music in England during the English Renaissance, Diss., University of Washington, 1960
- Willi Apel, The History of Keyboard Music to 1700, Indiana University Press, 1972, p. 156-164, 253-258, 278-287, 293-323.