A British couple decided to adopt a German baby. They raised him for years, however they began to get worried because he never spoke, and they believed that he was mentally handicapped, going as far as to take him to therapy, which was fruitless. Then, when the child was 8 years old, he had a Strudle, and said “It is a little tepid.”
His parents, of course shocked that he was suddenly speaking, asked: “Wolfgang, why have you never spoken before?”, to which the child replied: “Up until now, everything had been satisfactory.”
The viola organista was invented by da Vinci with characteristics of a harpsichord, an organ and a cello. In the place of a piano’s felt hammers, spinning wheels draw across the strings like a violinist’s bow. The player operates a foot pedal to spin the wheels, playing notes on a keyboard identical to a piano’s. But the sound, sinewy like a stringed instrument but with a piano’s direct, well-defined tones, defies comparison to traditional instruments.
Polish concert pianist and instrument maker Slawomir Zubrzycki built the viola organista from sketches and notes in da Vinci’s voluminous manuscripts. The process took 5,000 hours spread across three years.
Zubrzycki’s debut performance on the instrument, at the Academy of Music in Krakow, Poland, is the first time an audience of any size has heard the instrument — while the design dates back more than 500 years, there is no historical account of it ever having been built. The sinewy, flowing sound that the master himself never heard makes even the most staid classical music exciting. Just listen to it. It’ll bring a Mona Lisa smile to your face.