Sat, Nov 16, 2013 - Page 6 News List

FEATURE: Polish pianist brings Da Vinci instrument to life

RARE SOUND:Based on a late 15th-century design by the Renaissance genius, the viola organista sounds like a mixture of the harpsichord, organ and viola da gamba


Gabor Farkas, an award-winning Hungarian concert pianist and a teacher at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, fell in love with what he heard.

“It’s a keyboard instrument, but it sounds like someone is playing it with a bow like a violin or a cello — a very warm sound, very velvety, very beautiful,” an astonished Farkas said during the intermission as concert-goers crowded around the instrument to peer under its lid.

“One thing the piano is missing is that as soon as you hit one note, it dies. Here you can make a crescendo. It’s the dream of all pianists,” Farkas said.

Polish concert pianist Marian Sobula agreed.

“I’ve fallen in love with this sound,” he said after Zubrzycki playing his viola organista received a standing ovation. “All pianists and string players yearn for it, for these long, never-ending notes which you can’t play on the piano. It just gives you goose bumps.”

Krakow musician Kazimierz Pyzik who plays the thick-necked, seven-stringed viola da gamba — a precursor of the cello — was also a huge fan.

“Now that Poland’s been eliminated [from the World Cup] in football [soccer] and everyone’s kind of depressed about it, suddenly we have a man who’s created an instrument which is a one of a kind, the world over. It’s sensational,” he said.

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