Skip to comments.Leonardo Da Vinciís viola organista debuts Ö 500 years after its design
Posted on 12/02/2013 9:57:29 AM PST by SeekAndFind
It looks and plays like a piano, but it sounds like a string quartet — and it took 500 years before anyone built it. Leonardo da Vinci’s flight of fancy in designing a hammerless piano, called a “viola organista,” has come to life half a millenium after da Vinci designed it, thanks to a Polish concert pianist and musical engineer. It couldn’t have sounded any better in da Vinci’s head (via Brad Thor and Dan Gainor):
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 Vincis plans.
Full of steel strings and spinning wheels, Slawomir Zubrzyckis 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.
Update: Be sure to read Zombie’s comments and links. This isn’t the first time the viola organista has been built. Looks like the newspaper didn’t do its homework.
It would make great Background music for a Vincent price movie.
Other than that I can’t see much use for it.
*Classical music ping*
ping for later
Listening to it makes me think he’s playing a cello, a harpsichord, and a violin all at the same time.
Akio Obuchi built several instruments as early as 1993. In 2004, a modern reconstruction of the viola organista by Akio Obuchi was used in a concert in Genoa, Italy .
Turn on the captions for this video.
The article cites DaVinci’s “wacky piano”.
Methinks the “urinal-ist” is a mite jealous of Leo’s creativity as well as musical prowess.
Most people don’t know that when Leonardo got his first gig working for his patron, Ludovico Sforza, he went as a musician and slowly worked himself up as an architect and war machine designer.
Sounds like shop steward for the unionized string section.
Men like Leonardo Da Vinci don’t come very often.
He was a polymath (a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subjects): painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer.
His genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance Man, a man of “unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination”.
He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.
According to art historian Helen Gardner, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent and “his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, the man himself mysterious and remote”.
I think his genius was rivalled only by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo.
Each is connected to the keyboard, complete with smaller black keys for sharp and flat notes. But unlike a piano, it has no hammered dulcimers. Instead, there are four spinning wheels wrapped in horse-tail hair, like violin bows.
To turn them, Zubrzycki pumps a pedal below the keyboard connected to a crankshaft. As he tinkles the keys, they press the strings down onto the wheels, emitting rich, sonorous tones reminiscent of a cello, an organ and even an accordion.
In operating principle, this instrument is nothing more than an oversized medieval Hurdy Gurdy coupled to a piano keyboard. However, design of the sound board determines the volume and tonality -- here it is much more refined and cello-like than the typical Hurdy Gurdy.
Classical Music ping!
Don’t particularly like it. Sounds like a lot of muffled bass notes. Maybe music has to be composed specifically for it.
Very valid point; albeit, IMO Michelangelo was not quite as versatile as Leonardo, but just much a genius.
Even MORE weird!!
There are several Animusic DVDs available. What fascinates me is the special software that allows the music itself to drive the animations.
Another poster commented that perhaps it needs to be composed specifically "for". With the exception of the universally apropos Bach, this is perhaps true.