|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Wednesday, April 26, 2017
|Italian Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci's extremely rare Viola Organista: the sound of genius|
An extremely rare Viola Organista, based on a late 15th-century design by Leonardo da Vinci, built by Polish concert pianist, Slawomir Zubrzycki. The instrument which was unveiled this month was built over the last three years. AFP PHOTO/TOMASZ WIECH.
By: Mary Sibierski
KRAKOW (AFP).- With elegant black and tan keys it looks like a baby grand piano, but when tinkled they release the voluptuous tones of a cello.
Painter of the Mona Lisa, Italian Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci also dreamt up the Viola Organista in the late 15th century as a marriage of keyboard and string instruments. But he never built it, experts say.
Virtually forgotten, it has come to life thanks to a Polish concert pianist with a flair for instrument-making.
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 told AFP recently as he debuted the instrument at the Academy of Music in Poland's historic southern city of Krakow.
"Leonardo da Vinci invented it around 1470-80," said the tall, thin, bespectacled 50-year-old as he rummaged in a briefcase full of tools picking one for a final tuning.
The instrument's exterior is painted in a rich hue of 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.
"Holy prophets and scholars immersed in the sea of arts both human and divine, dreamt up a multitude of instruments to delight the soul," it says.
The flat bed of its interior is lined with golden spruce. Sixty-one gleaming steel strings run across it, similar to the inside of a baby grand.
Each one 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 peddle 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.
The effect is a sound that da Vinci dreamt of, but never heard; there are no historical records suggesting he or anyone else of his time built the instrument he designed.
A sketch complete with notes in da Vinci's characteristic inverted script is found in his Codex Atlanticus, a 12-volume collection of his manuscripts and designs covering everything from mathematics to botany, weaponry to flight.
"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 the mild-mannered Zubrzycki with just a hint of pride.
Bringing da Vinci's dream sound to life was a three-year-long labour of love for Zubrzycki, on which he spent at least 5,000 hours and 30,000 zloty (7,000 euros, $9,700).
The "Geigenwerk" -- "fiddle work" in English -- built in 1575 by German Hans Haiden is the first known instrument based on da Vinci's design, according to experts at the Musical Instruments Museum (MIM) in Brussels.
Its collection contains another built in 1625 by Spaniard Truchado Raymundo.
"It's the only wholly preserved example of this instrument" from the past, MIM expert Pascalle Vandervellen told AFP.
Japan's Aiko Obuchi built a compact table-top model a decade ago, but information about any others is hard to come by.
Contemporary examples are "very rare," Vandervellen said.
'Gives you goose bumps'
It was standing room only for the recent world premier of Zubrzycki's Viola Organista in a gilded concert hall complete with twinkling crystal chandeliers at Krakow's prestigious Academy of Music.
Gabor Farkas, an award-winning Hungarian concert pianist and a teacher at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, fell in love with what he heard.
"It's a keyboard instrument but it sounds like someone is playing it with a bow like a violin or a cello -- a very warm sound, very velvety, very beautiful," an astonished Farkas told AFP during the intermission as concert-goers crowded around the instrument to peer under its lid.
"One thing the piano is missing is that as soon as you hit one note, it dies. Here you can make a crescendo. It's the dream of all pianists!", Farkas said.
Polish concert pianist Marian Sobula agreed.
"I've fallen in love with this sound," he said after Zubrzycki playing his Viola Organista received a standing ovation.
"All pianists and string players yearn for it, for these long, never-ending notes which you can't play on the piano. It just gives you goose bumps."
Krakow musician Kazimierz Pyzik who plays the thick-necked, seven-stringed viola da gamba - a precursor of the cello -- was also a huge fan.
"Now that Poland's been eliminated (from the World Cup) in football and everyone's kind of depressed about it, suddenly we have a man who's created an instrument which is a one of a kind, the world over. It's sensational!".
© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse
November 15, 2013
Major exhibition of new works by artist and musician Bob Dylan opens at Halcyon Gallery
Last chance to keep stunning Sir Anthony Van Dyck painting in the United Kingdom
Antique Oriental Rug Q&A with Claremont Rug Company Founder Jan David Winitz on 33rd Anniversary
Civil War masterpiece by Sanford Robinson Gifford to be offered in Christie's Sale of American Art
Sotheby's announces Latin American Art Modern & Contemporary Evening Sale
Italian Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci's extremely rare Viola Organista: the sound of genius
Lisson Gallery opens a retro-futuristic survey of historical and contemporary British sculpture
Great Britain's Culture Minister appeals for £175,100 to keep Napoleon Bonaparte death mask
New skyscraper opens on site of World Trade Center replacing the South Tower
Smithsonian launches The Smithsonian X 3D Collection and state-of-the-art 3-D explorer
Virtual interactive tour of Hammer Galleries 'Modern Muse' exhibition now available
Dallas Museum of Art to open Paintings Conservation Studio next week
Francisco Sierra, winner of 2013 MANOR Art Prize, exhibits at Kunstmuseum St. Gallen
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum announces new Board Chair and appointment of new Trustee
Dazzling gemstones of epic proportions to be offered at Bonhams auction in Los Angeles
Annie Oakley's 16-gauge shotgun, used extensively in her long career, being sold by her great-grandniece
Urban Expositions announces inaugural art + design new york to open May 8-11, 2014
Library of Congress officially opens The Seth MacFarlane Collection of Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive
Take a book, leave a book: tiny libraries thrive in US
Sanyu's Seated Nude leads Bonhams Hong Kong Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art Sale
Tacoma Art Museum's "Optic Nerve" proves that not everything is what it seems
Exhibition of new paintings and photographs by Paul Winstanley opens at Kerlin Gallery
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Builders find lost archbishops of Canterbury in London's St Mary's-at-Lambeth crypt
2.- Egyptian archaeological team discovers mummies in ancient tomb near Egypt's Luxor
3.- Artium, Basque Contemporary Art Centre-Museum presents PIGS
4.- British treasure found in piano
5.- Celebrated Polish sculptor and fiber artist Magdalena Abakanowicz dies at 86
6.- The Met reunites Caravaggio's last two paintings in exhibition
7.- Intuit celebrates Henry Darger's 125th birthday with new exhibition
8.- Exhibition delves into the manner that melancholy is represented in Mexican art
9.- Exhibition of early photographs of Bob Dylan opens at Steven Kasher Gallery
10.- The 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018) announces first 21 artists for its 45th anniversary exhibition
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.