Norman Lebrecht, writing in the Slipped Disk blog, debunks a piano, sort of:
Leonardo’s instrument? No, it’s a reproduction of an obscure German contraption
There has been much press hooh-hah about a bowed keyboard instrument imagined by Leonardo da Vinci and built by an enterprising Pole. But does it pass the acid test of musicology? Apparently not. Here’s a response to the American Musicological Society Discussion List from Professor Edmond Johnson in Los Angeles. Sorry, folks.
I hesitate to represent myself as any sort of expert in the history of bowed keyboard instruments, but I think I can probably answer Prof. Warfield’s question about “Leonardo da Vinci’s Wacky Piano.” Basically, it appears that the instrument built by Slawomir Zubrzycki is not so much a realization of a design by Leonardo da Vinci as it is a reconstruction of the instrument described as a “Geigenwerk/GeigenInstrument, oder GeigenClavicymbel” in the second volume of Michael Praetorius’s Syntagma Musicum (pp.67-72)…
I think it’s safe to say that the idea of a long-lost instrument by Leonardo da Vinci makes for far better headlines than “Instrument by Obscure German Reconstructed… Again.” … You can find some reproductions of the da Vinci sketches in Emanuel Winternitz’s “Strange Musical Instruments in the Madrid Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci,” Metropolitan Museum Journal, 2 (1969), pp. 115-126.
Here’s video of the celebrated new instrument in action:
(Thanks to investigator Jim Cowdery for bringing this to our attention.)
BONUS (unrelated): Why Is This Woman Smiling a Mona-Lisa-level Smile?