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Leonardo Da Vinci as a Musician

By (author) Emanuel Winternitz
Genres: Music
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Yale University Press, New Haven, United States
Published: 1st Jul 1982
Dimensions: w 210mm h 280mm
Weight: 1100g
ISBN-10: 0300026315
ISBN-13: 9780300026313
Barcode No: 9780300026313

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Kirkus US
Winternitz, longtime (1941-1973) Curator of Musical Instruments at the Metropolitan Museum, brings his vast knowledge of Renaissance music-making to this very special piece of scholarship - filling out the little that is known about Leonardo's musical careers with extensive background materials. Since Leonardo was said to have played (improvising) upon a lyre in the shape of a horse skull, for instance, Winternitz reviews the history of the lira da braccio - and he contemplates Leonardo's sketches of both horses and skulls to suggest what this bizarre, one-of-a-kind instrument may have looked like. Similarly, Winternitz sketches in general information on the period's musico-theatrical entertainments - along with intense analysis of Leonardo's own few documented contributions (including "the only specimens of musical writing by Leonardo that have been preserved"). He studies Leonardo's prophetic design sketches for the "viola organista" and other instruments-stressing the way his mind seems to have worked, his derivations of principles from the human body's workings, and, always, the period background. ("Before turning to an analysis of Leonardo's new ideas for the construction of melodic and chordic drums. . . it will be necessary to inquire into the general state of drum construction in Leonardo's time.") And he recreates all of Leonardo's experiments with acoustics - echoes, pitch, volume, etc. - while also re-examining (even sometimes re-translating) Leonardo's Paragone on the Arts, emphasizing the interest in music throughout. True, Winternitz's narrow scholarly approach occasionally involves the elevation of the seemingly trivial and some interpretive strain. And no particular thesis - other than Leonardo's interest in music - is developed through the disjointed chapters. But, with profuse illustrations (many from lesser-known sources), this will provide rewarding browsing for Renaissance aficionados or musical-instrument lovers - and its meticulous documentation of the musical Leonardo will command the attention of all future biographers. (Kirkus Reviews)