Journey Through Time with a Hurdy Gurdy


Step back in time with Tomás Lozano into the peculiar world of the Hurdy-Gurdy. Discover how this curious instrument made its mysterious appearance in the Middle Ages in Europe. From monks in churches to street minstrels to blind beggars to peasants and eventually to the French nobility in the Baroque period, follow the hurdy gurdy’s journey as it moved through society.

How was this multi-faceted instrument used by all these different people? How did the tunes and songs differ? How did the models, sizes and shapes evolve?

The Hurdy Gurdy Girl, 1879. Jules Richomme, 1818-1903

How did the hurdy gurdy make it to the present? What does it look like and sound like today?


Join Tomás Lozano in this highly experiential and informational performance by way of live demonstrations and visual projections. Be amazed, as Lozano plays different styles, tunings and even invites you to peer into the secret and hidden mechanics that make the hurdy gurdy work.


This program is suited for audiences of all ages. It lasts approximately one hour, and can be adapted and shortened to fit tighter schedules for younger audiences.





Program outline

This program combines a power-point presentation and live hurdy gurdy performance. I begin by featuring the mother of the hurdy gurdy, the organistrum, via images from sculptures in churches in Spain in the 11th Century. I show the evolution of the instrument as it appears in art in Europe, while I tell anecdotes about its fluctuations through social classes during different periods. I intersperse live hurdy gurdy performance to provide a real feel for the explanations. I also demonstrate how the instrument works mechanically. The program is dynamic, full of funny anecdotes, images and historical facts.



Reviews for A Journey through time with a Hurdy Gurdy

“Tomás Lozano presented a fascinating hour of music, pictures and history of the Hurdy-gurdy. Many of us, if we have any idea of the instrument at all, think of it as a historical novelty but after learning of the rich history of the instrument and the developments that have taken place over the centuries, I have a renewed respect for the builders, as well as the performers on the instrument. The presentation was enriched by photographs of numerous churches which contain carvings of early instruments and always include a form of the Hurdy Gurdy from that era. I now realize that the many forms of the Hurdy Gurdy found frequent use as an accompanying instrument for church choirs, minstrels, and other musical presentations. It was of special interest to me to learn of use of the instrument today in folk and even jazz music in different parts of the world”.
Danny J. Duncan, D.M.E
Emeritus Professor of Music
Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond, KentuckyIMG_2954
“Tomás Lozano’s presentation, Journey Through Time with a Hurdy Gurdy was captivating and well received, as he took us through the history of the instrument from it’s earliest origins in Europe, to it’s role in music today. Tomás Lozano was able to discuss the construction of the instrument, as well as play it, and his delivery was passionate and well informed”

Patricia Dixon
St. Lecturer in Music
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, North CarolinaIMG_7515




This Spring, (2017), Tomás Lozano visited my World Music and Cultures course to share his knowledge of regional music traditions from Spain and France. Moving effortlessly between the hurdy-gurdy, guitar, tambourine, and lecture podium, he took us on a trip through time and space where we learned about music as an integral part of daily social life in Western Europe. From stories about blind traveling minstrels in Spain to old French wedding songs Lozano captivated my students and brought history and tradition to life through music. In the weeks following, many students approached me to tell me how much they enjoyed learning about and hearing the hurdy-gurdy and how much they appreciated his visit. He is a natural speaker, fantastic performer, and walking encyclopedia of European regional traditions. I very much look forward to having him visit my courses again in the future.

Jennie Gubner,

Visiting Lecturer of Ethnomusicology

                                                                                           Indiana University, Bloomington Indiana


Tomás Lozano’s “Journey Through Time with a Hurdy-Gurdy” was one of the most interesting lecture-demonstrations we have held at the university. I was truly impressed by his knowledge of the history behind the hurdy-gurdy and how he was able to interchange the playing and singing of specific chants, folk songs, ballads, and other pieces with a captivating slideshow presentation on the hurdy-gurdy’s development. Tomas brought in two beautiful hurdy-gurdy instruments, so that students were able to see different constructions of the instrument through time. His explanations of the mechanics behind the instrument were clear and witty and his demonstrations were very skilled. He was witty and engaging, encouraging questions and group interaction. My students and I came away from this presentation with a better knowledge of not only the hurdy-gurdy, but also the socio-cultural situations within which it was created and developed. This is sure to be a presentation that none of us will forget, and I would highly recommend inviting Tomas to share his expertise as musician, singer and folklorist to anyone. (Oct. 19th, 2017)

Dr. Meghan Hynson

Visiting Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology

Duquesne University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania



Below is an interview and article from the Nuvo Magazine: