The Viola Organista is an instrument that was invented (but never built) by Leonardo Da Vinci. Leonardo Da Vinci first sketched his concept of the instrument in about 1470. The first person to build the instrument was Hans Heiden from Nuremberg. The instrument is a keyboard instrument with strings (it looks like a harpsichord) with little wheels inside it. The instrument also has a pedal. It sounds like a viol when it is played. The instrument was around in the Renaissance and Baroque periods and one of Bach’s sons and Liszt were interested in it. For some unknown reason the instrument vanished from the music scene. The instrument was re-discovered by a Polish pianist and composer named Sławomir Zubrzycki.
Here is a video of Sławomir Zubrzycki talking about his discovery of Leonardo Da Vinci’s instrument. He talks about the instrument’s historical background. Mr.Zubrzycki also plays the instrument. Enjoy!