Unrealized Da Vinci Instrument Finally Built

Five-hundred years after it was designed, Leonardo Da Vinci’s viola organist has built built and played.

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Five-hundred years ago, in the midst of a lifetime filled with magnificent invention, Leonardo da Vinci created a musical instrument. Named the viola organist, the piano shaped instrument sounds something like a combination of harpsichord, organ, and viola de gamba.

Over the course of the last 3 years Polish concert pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki has been painstakingly building the viola organista. According to Zubrzycki’s calculations, about 5000 hours of work have been needed to create the instrument.

Built around a keyboard that features four spinning wheel the viola organista pulls a series of bow across strings that are located within the body of the machine. By pressing on a foot pump Zubrzycki keep the organista’s wheels spinning as he plays the keys to lower the wheels onto the strings. The resulting contact creates the instruments old-world sound. 

In a recent performance at the Academy of Music in Krakow, Zubrzycki debuted Da Vinci’s instrument. ‘I have no idea what Leonardo da Vinci might think of the instrument I’ve made, but I’d hope he’d be pleased,’’ said Zubrzycki.

Given what I’ve heard, I’m sure he would.

Images and Video Courtesy of The Age