Da Vinci 500 Book 3

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Leonardo da Vinci (15 April 1452 - 2 May 1519) was an Italian polymath of the Renaissance whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and is credited with inventing the parachute, helicopter, and tank. Many historians and scholars regard Leonardo as a unique ‘Renaissance Man’ and he is widely considered one of the most diversely talented individuals ever to have lived.

DA VINCI 500 is an international project bringing together composers to write a work for unaccompanied double bass to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci. Each work is inspired in some way by the great man or one of his paintings or inventions and Dritan Gani (Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, Ankara, Turkey) recorded all the pieces for YouTube. Concerts on Thursday 2 May 2019 at Silk Mill West in Frome (Somerset) and Sunday 5 May 2019 at Village Hall, Templecombe (Somerset) featured performances of all the works in the project by David Heyes (double bass), Dritan Gani (double bass) and Alexander Heather (double bass).

Composers taking part in Da Vinci 500 are: David Heyes (UK), Bernard Salles (France), Eric Funk (USA), Mary Rae (USA), Graham Boag (Oman/UK), James Marshall (USA), Tony Osborne (UK), John Kinsella (Republic of Ireland), Adam Booker (USA), Luis Guillermo Pérez (Venezuela), James D'Angelo (UK/USA), Peter Byrom-Smith (UK), Simón García (Spain), John Alexander (UK), Michael Montgomery (USA), Ashley John Long (UK), Michal Bylina (Poland), Teppo Hauta-aho (Finland) and P. Kellach Waddle (USA).

Michal Bylina (Poland) - I Pensieri
To many of us Leonardo da Vinci is a man veiled in mystery. Nowadays there are many ideas of hidden messages in his works which I guess we’ll never understand. Are they genuine? Did he possibly want to transmit something important for humanity? Did he know something which was prohibited to tell? Questions of this type led me to write a cycle of three pieces for unaccompanied bass called ‘I Pensieri’ which in Italian stands for ‘thoughts’. Yet every one of them bears a message, a hidden thought of Signor da Vinci. To quote the grand inventor: “ The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding”. [Michal Bylina]
PREMIERE: Saturday 4 May 2019 at St Margaret's Church, Hinton Blewett, Somerset by Dritan Gani (double bass)

David Heyes (UK) - The Joy of Understanding (dedicated to Gabriele Ragghianti)
1. La belle ferronnière is a portrait of a lady, usually attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, in the Louvre Abu Dhabi. It is also known as Portrait of an Unknown Woman. The painting's title, applied as early as the seventeenth century, identifying the sitter as the wife or daughter of an ironmonger (a ferronnier), was said to be discreetly alluding to a reputed mistress of Francis I of France, married to a certain Le Ferron. The three pieces were written to exploit the great musicality and glorious virtuosity of my great friend Gabriele Ragghinati. His lyrical solo playing inspired the soundworld of each piece and 'La belle ferronnière' depicts a beautiful young woman with a confident and direct stare into the distance. She appears assured and determined and the music has a bold and confident narrative, exploiting a cantabile and lyrical range of the double bass. The piece contrasts slow and confident themes with music of a more dramatic and energetic nature, hoping to capture the hidden thoughts and feelings of this beautiful and intriguing young woman.
PREMIERE: Thursday 2 May 2019 at Silk Mill West, Frome, Somerset by Dritan Gani (double bass)

2. La Gioconda or the Mona Lisa has been described as "the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world". The painting is a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, and is believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506; however, Leonardo may have continued working on it as late as 1517. It was acquired by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic, on permanent display at the Louvre Museum in Paris since 1797. La Gioconda is played entirely in harmonics and the opening and recurring four note motif represents her smile, described as enigmatic and also alluring and aloof. The music is simple and straightforward, evocative and atmospheric, exploring the flute-like sounds of the double bass harmonics in a lyrical and sonorous idiom, with a gentle ebb and flow.
PREMIERE: Thursday 2 May 2019 at Silk Mill West, Frome, Somerset by David Heyes(double bass)

3. The Last Supper is a late 15th-century mural painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci housed by the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. It is one of the western world's most recognizable paintings. The work is presumed to have been started around 1495–96 and was commissioned as part of a plan of renovations to the church and its convent buildings by Leonardo's patron Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. The painting represents the scene of the Last Supper of Jesus with his apostles, as it is told in the Gospel of John, 13:21. Leonardo has depicted the consternation that occurred among the Twelve Apostles when Jesus announced that one of them would betray him. The Last Supper is slow and solemn, almost exclusively in the key of E minor, and utilises much of the higher register of the double bass. The opening four note motif is the basis for much of the melodic material and the piece exploits the lyrical and sonorous qualities of the double bass. The tempo remains constant until the last few notes with the glorious cantabile sound of Gabriele Ragghianti influencing the mood and style of the piece. [David Heyes]
PREMIERE: Sunday 5 May 20129 at Village Hall, Templecombe, Somerset by Alexander Heather (double bass)

Tony Osborne (UK) - Leonardo 500 - Genio Creativo
There can be few, if any, who have not been touched by the breadth and beauty of Leonardo da Vinci's genius, and relentless passion, that produced some of the most celebrated works of art, architecture, scientific investigation, invention, mystery and imagination, in history, that expanded our understanding of our world. I remember vividly the two occasions on which I have seen the Mona Lisa, among other works of Leonardo's, and the profound impact it made on me. Leonardo 500 - Genio Creativo aims to reflect his relentless creative energy and spirit. [Tony Osborne]
PREMIERE: Thursday 2 May 2019 at Silk Mill West, Frome, Somerset by Dritan Gani (double bass)

Mary Rae (USA) - Leonardo's Birds
I began this project by reading about Leonardo da Vinci in Lives of the Artists by Giorgio Vasari. There's hardly anything about Leonardo's life and works that doesn't mark him as singular, but I was particularly stuck by his compassion for all living things. Vasari wrote:
"When passing by places where birds were being sold, he would often take them out of their cages with his own hands, and after paying the seller the price that was asked of him, he would set them free in the air, restoring to them the liberty they had lost. Great tenderness in a man of such genius is humbling. I can't help but wonder if, when he wrote in his Notebooks, "While I thought I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die," he thought of those birds. [Mary Rae]
PREMIERE: Thursday 2 May 2019 at Silk Mill West, Frome, Somerset by David Heyes (double bass)

Mary Rae (USA) - The Empty Studio
I think the idea of writing a piece to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci's death provides a special inspiration. In my own life, music and art have been very closely linked, and I suspect that the same is true in some way for many, if not all composers. There is so much tribute to be paid, to an incredible genius, and to a human being who carried the weight of that genius with uncommon grace. In this piece, I imagined Leonardo da Vinci's studio moments after his death, empty of life, yet echoing still with his last footsteps, his last longings, his last dreams. [Mary Rae]
PREMIERE: Saturday 4 May 2019 at St Margaret's Church, Hinton Blewett, Somerset by David Heyes (double bass)

Teppo Hauta-aho (Finland) - A Song for Da Vinci
A Song for Da Vinci' was completed on 2 May 2019 and is in one movement exploring the wide range of the solo double bass. The opening music [Andante sostenuto] is in the bass register, switching between arco and pizzicato a number of times, with short phrases and snatches of melodic interest leading into a section of pizzicato double stops. The second section [Poco piu mosso] is in treble clef and eventually ascends into the harmonic register. The music is lyrical and expansive, contrasting the opening music, with long musical phrases which are simple though far from simplistic. A few double stops interrupt the flow and the music gradually relaxes in height and intensity before moving into a lower register and ending with s imple repeated bar creating a sense of unfinished business. [Teppo Hauta-aho]
PREMIERE: Friday 3 May 2019 at Quilter Hall, Wells Somerset by Alexander Heather (double bass)


  • 1. Michal Bylina - I Pensieri
  • 2. David Heyes - The Joy of Understanding
  • 3. Tony Osborne - Leonardo 500-Genio Creativo
  • 4. Mary Rae - Leonardos' Birds
  • 5. Mary Rae - The Empty Studio
  • 6. Teppo Hauta-aho - A Song for Da Vinci
Cat No. RM1068
Supplier Code RM1068
Price £12.50
ComposersMichal Bylina
Teppo Hauta-aho
David Heyes
Tony Osborne
Mary Rae
CategoryDouble Bass Solo
Difficulty level7 - 8, Advanced
Weight 163 grams
Published 23rd January 2020
Availability 9 in stock