November 21, 2013 - A bizarre instrument
combining a piano and cello has finally been played to an audience more than 500 years after it was dreamt up Leonardo da Vinci.
Da Vinci, the Italian Renaissance
genius who painted the Mona Lisa, invented the ‘‘viola organista’’ - which looks like a baby grand piano – but never built it, experts say.
The viola organista has now come to life, thanks to a Polish concert pianist with a flair for instrument-making and the patience and passion to interpret da Vinci’s plans.
Full of steel strings and spinning wheels, Slawomir Zubrzycki’s creation is a musical and mechanical work of art.
‘‘This instrument has the characteristics of three we know: the harpsichord, the organ and the viola da gamba,’’ Zubrzycki said as he debuted the instrument at the Academy of Music in the southern Polish city of Krakow.
The instrument’s exterior is painted in a rich midnight blue, adorned with golden swirls painted on the side. The inside of its lid is a deep raspberry inscribed with a Latin quote in gold leaf by 12th-century German nun, mystic and philosopher, Saint Hildegard.
Viola Organista built by Slawomir Zubrzycki
Codex Atlanticus by Leonardo Da Vinci, (page 93r)
Buried in the pages of Leonardo Da Vinci's famous 15th century notebooks, amongst the sketches for flying machines, parachutes, diving suits, and armored tanks, was a curious idea for a musical instrument that merged the harpsichord and cello that the...