Will Forster's Virginal Book

It is with pleasure to announce the first-ever publication of Will Forster’s Virginal Book –– Lessons by Mr Byrd &c.



Will Forster was a London civil servant who amassed several properties in London, a ‘harpsicall’ and a large chest of eight viols, which were distributed between his children when he died in 1645. However, this was not his only legacy since he also copied a book of 72 keyboard pieces, of which over a half is devoted to William Byrd, who died about a year before the book was completed. Much of the Byrd content is unique to this volume, and Forster’s sources appear to have been copies that were close to the composer’s prototypes. Nothing is known of the book’s history between Forster’s death and its appearance in the Royal Music Library under the title Lessons by Mr Bird &c and given to the State in the 1970s as a part of the newly formed British Library.

Without Forster’s help, we would be missing a large body of music unknown in other sources. It includes five grounds by Byrd and a host of pavans and galliards, Thomas Morley’s ‘Quadran Pavine’, Byrd’s arrangement of Edward Johnson’s ‘Medley’, keyboard intabulations and many other unique pieces.

Edited by Jon Baxendale and Francis Knights, Will Forster’s Virginal Book contains 417 pages of text and music, making it one of the more substantial books in the Lyrebird catalogue. Prefatory material examines the manuscript, music and how the notation affects performance.

It is fitting that Will Forster’s Virginal Book should be published in the same month we mark the 400th anniversary of Byrd’s death. It’s also our 40th publication and to mark the occasion, customers are provided with a discount of 20% on this and all our books until 31 July.

Lyrebird editions are available in hardback, wire and tablet formats.

The code is: lyrebyrd40-0

With kind regards,



What is wire format?

I believe it’s a way of binding Lyrebird uses for their books, along with an american-style of hard binding (American, i.e. with a flat spine as opposed to European, round spine). Very practical for staying open on the music desk, even though maybe less robust than hardbound. I think it’s called wire-bound in English.

The Lyrebird websit address in Jon’s post has a typo, so here it is the correct one: https://lyrebirdmusic.com/


Wire format means that it is a spiral edition. In other words, the score lies flat on the music desk.

Bravo @LyrebirdMusic on this significant edition.

Frank is correct. This is a very large book with 413 pages. For some music desks, a hardback edition is unsuitable.

Thanks for pointing that out. It’s an old-man thing that requires finding reading glasses!