Leonardo da Vinci is best remembered as an artist, but the Renaissance genius was also fascinated by science, engineering, anatomy, astronomy and architecture. Less well-known is his love of music, which he regarded as “the sister of painting”. Kate Bolton-Porciattitakes us into the world of Leonardo the musician, who improvised, “sang masterfully” and designed bizarre instruments.

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci portrait engraved by Cosimo Colombini between 1710 and 1810. Image: IanDagnall Computing/Alamy Stock Photo

One of the lesser-known aspects of Leonardo da Vinci’s genius is his skill as a musician. Contemporary accounts describe him as a singer, an instrumentalist and improviser, and he comes across as a theatrical showman – the Freddie Mercury of his day. As well as performing, he sketched and designed novel and sometimes...