Viola organista

Famous Venetian Airs performed on a unique instrument built according to Leonardo Da Vinci’s design
A. Vivaldi, A. Willaert, A. Gabrieli


Sławomir ZUBRZYCKI - viola organista (Poland)


Thursday 28. 7. 2016, 19.30
Břevnov Monastery, Terezian Hall
Markétská 1, Prague


In collaboration with the Polish Institute Prague.


The concet included the screening of a short documentary, The Sound of da Vinci, about the origin of this extraordinary project and instrument.


Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps the greatest of all geniuses in history, has many important inventions under his belt, including the parachute, helicopter, machine gun, submarine, automobile, diving suit, tank, and the drill. His legendary sketchbooks, however, comprise also the project of a peculiar music instrument which he called “viola organista” and which, similarly to barrel organ, combines the principle of a keyboard and bow-stringed instrument, producing a sound which reminds of viol consort. Yet, all comparisons pale in the light of the sound of an instrument which has been built according to da Vinci’s original plans by the pianist and clavichordist Sławomir Zubrzycki of Cracow. A Czech premiere, in which this unique instrument and its builder appeared in a program comprising famous Venetian airs, took place in the Theresian Hall of Břevnov Monastery on 28 July. The concert included the screening of a short documentary called The Sound of da Vinci, about the origin of this extraordinary project and instrument. We can only wish for fewer machine guns and more viola organistas!


Concert Programme

Andrea Gabrieli (ca 1532–1585)
Canzoni alla francese et Ricercari ariosi
Fantasia allegra
Canzon Francese deta FRAIS & GAILLARD
Canzon Francese deta MARTIN MENOIT
Ricercar di Andrea Gabrieli sopra MARTIN MENOIT


Adrian Willaert (ca 1490–1562)


Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741)
Cello Sonata V in E minor
Cello Sonata VI in B-flat Major

All the transcriptions for viola organista are by Sławomir Zubrzycki., 28. 7. 2016, Daniel Jäger
The builder of the instrument, Sławomir Zubrzycki, says about its history and tradition: "Its history is very peculiar. More than 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci invented a new musical instrument which was to be something really exceptional. Perhaps it was to be a perfect instrument (it combined elements of various principles of keyboard and string instruments). The problem is that da Vinci made a design but never actually constructed the instrument. [...] In the past we had no chance to hear viola organista in concert hall or musical salons. It is truly an interesting story. At the start there was this legendary inventor, and then there was silence for five entire centuries."