The Organist Viola designed by Leonardo da Vinci
29.jan 2024

Álea de Almeida

The Viola Organista is a hybrid musical instrument designed by the famous Italian artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci (1452‐1519). The Polish pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki, in 2012, brought this viola organist to life based on the writings of Leonardo da Vinci and also performed the instrument in several concert halls.

Da Vinci ended up becoming well known as a painter, but he also dealt with, among other subjects, Music. Leonardo was a music teacher and instrumentalist, he was known for being an excellent lyre player. Old records about him have come down to us that say that Da Vinci sang and improvised very well.

In addition to all this, Leonardo was also a luthier, he invented several musical instruments and proposed improvements to some that already existed. He left several notes about these inventions in his notebooks that have survived to this day.

Among the instruments that Da Vinci invented is the viola organista, a keyboard instrument, but which sounds as if
several string instruments were being played.

viola organista

Viola Organista

The instrument works like this: the keyboard activates the string that is lifted and played by a kind of bow, producing the sounds. The viola organist allows several strings to be played at the same time, which produces the sound of a string orchestra controlled by the player’s fingers.

The Polish pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki built, in Krakow, in 2012, an organist viola based on the writings of Leonardo da Vinci and gave several concerts with it. Check out videos of the Polish luthier and pianist: