As if all his other accomplishments were not impressive enough, it should be noted that according to his early biographers, Leonardo da Vinci was also a “brilliant musician,” who was a talented player of the lira da braccio.
According to award-winning biographer and author, Charles Nicholl, Leonardo must “have excelled” since the biographers “the Anonimo” and Vasari insisted Leonardo:
”...went to Milan, probably in early 1482, [where] he was presented to the Milanese court not as a painter or technologist, but as a musician.”The lira da braccio was not the lyre of ancient antiquity, but rather a forerunner to the violin. Leonardo excelled at playing this instrument, and was, according to Vasari:
”...the most skilled improviser in verse of his time.”Leonardo the first freestyle rapper? Wonderful.
But it doesn’t stop there, Leonardo wrote music, though only fragments remain of his compositions. In his biography on Leonardo, Nicholl identifies one of the artist’s short compositions:
”...the following romantic ditty: ‘Amore sola mi fa remirare, la sol mi fa sollecita’—‘Only love makes me remember, it alone fires me up.’ The two passages of musical notation can be picked out on a keyboard—DGAEFDE AGEFG. This is a melody by Leonardo da Vinci.”Leonardo also devised and created plans for many strange and wonderful musical instruments, including the viola organista, which is an instrument that combines the sound of the piano and the cello.
Five-hundred years after dreaming-up the viola organista, Leonardo’s musical instrument has been painstakingly reproduced by Polish concert pianist, Slawomir Zubrzycki, who spent 5000 hours building the instrument as based on Leonardo’s original plans.
Zubrzycki debuted the instrument at a performance at the Academy of Music in Krakow, Poland, and this is what it sounds like.