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Annibale dei Rossi Virginal Harpsichord

Made by: Annibale de Rossi

17th Century


ca. 1542

The virginal may be the earliest know surviving instrument by this Italian maker, also, the oldest instrument in the Schubert Club collection. The outer case is not original to the instrument, likely added in the 17th century. Popular in the 16th and 17th centuries, virginals are a smaller variety of harpsichord with strings running at right angles to the keys and with long bass strings at the front.

Since its acquisition, questions have emerged regarding its authenticity. Thus far, studies done by individual conservators and leading researchers have been inconclusive. This instrument could be an original Rossi, but it’s also been suggested that it could be “Fake” Rossi – combing original Rossi pieces with another anonymous instrument. The mid-19th century antique dealer, Leopoldo Franciolini was particularly notorious for this type of fraud, and to this day, his work is a barrier to the scholarly study of historical instruments.

Pentagonal spinet, single strung
4 octaves (bass short)
Painting on lid
Fallboard: “OPUS/Hannibalis Mediola/ Nensis 1542”