It looks like a piano and it’s played like one too. But Leonardo da Vinci’s invention, the concept of which is preserved on paper records hundreds of years old, would sound like a violin.
For centuries, the instrument has not been heard — until now.
Polish concert pianist, Slawomir Zubrzycki, presents an extremely rare Viola Organista, based on a late 15th-century design by Leonardo da Vinci on October 18, 2013 in Krakow. The instrument which was unveiled this month was built over the last three years by him. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Polish concert pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki recently built the “viola organista” and debuted his interpretation of it at a piano festival in Krakow, Poland, last month.
Zubrzycki posted video of his concert last week [above]. A Q&A by Tygodnik Powszechny with Zubrzycki (translated via Google Translate) reported the pianist finding Vinci’s notes on the instrument dating to 1489.
Further research led Zubrzycki to learn about physical constructions of the instrument dating to the 1600s, but “none has survived to our times,” he said.
Viola organista, Codex Atlanticus, 1488–1489 (Image source: Istituto Comprensivo di Ponte in Valtellina via Wikimedia)
Zubrzycki took it upon himself to begin reconstructing the instrument in 2009.
But he wasn’t the only one. Akio Obuchi constructed and played his own viola organista in 2004. Zubrzycki said though that Obuchi’s several iterations of the instrument have flaws.
Here’s another example of the viola organista’s music. Check out this video for a more in-depth look at the instrument and its inner workings (Note: the audio is in Polish).
‘‘I have no idea what Leonardo da Vinci might think of the instrument I’ve made, but I’d hope he’d be pleased,’’ Zubrzycki said of his reconstruction of the instrument, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Actually teared up…what a beautiful instrument. Those lower tones are absolutely marvelous.