„Les Vielleux de la Reine“ are a baroque hurdy gurdy duo including Francesco Giusta (IT) and Ron Höllein (GER). Named after the French Queen Maria Leszczynska, without whom the hurdy gurdy might have never been fashionable in 18th century France, their aim is to bring back long forgotten duo repertoire composed for the instrument.


In its almost one thousand year history, the hurdy-gurdy experienced its peak in 18th century France. Aside from famines, epidemics and wars, there was a trend among the French aristocracy to recreate an idealized rural life in the arts at court. Due to this development the musette (baroque bagpipe) and vielle (baroque hurdy-gurdy) became en vogue. The popularity of the instrument went even so far that, besides famous aristocrats of the time such as the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, even the French queen Maria Leczinksa, wife of Louis XV, as well as her daughter Adelaïde played the instrument. However, not with great success, if one believes contemporary witnesses.

Parallel to aristocratic amateurs there were also some virtuoso players and composers who redefined and expanded the boundaries of the instrument and its playing techniques. The fascination with these peasant instruments eventually led to the composition of more than 200 works for the hurdy-gurdy between 1725 and 1765. Among them were composers such as Boismortier, Corrette, Dupuits, Naudot, Rameau et cetera.

The hurdy-gurdy is a stringed instrument in which the strings are bowed through a wheel, which is turned by a crank. Meanwhile, the left hand play the melody by pressing keys. Drone strings, which play a constant tone, can also be added to create a pedal-point-like effect. The instrument’s special feature is the trompette, a movable wooden bridge that beats against the top of the instrument, resulting in a percussion-like sound that is typical of the instrument.


Francesco Giusta takes interest in the hurdy gurdy at the age of 11. He later improves and develops his technique with virtuosos such as Gregory Jolivet, German Diaz, Matthias Loibner, Valentin Clastrier and Tobie Miller.

He has played in several bands, amongst folk and early music, and has been a guest of well-known groups such as Lou Dalfin, Malanova, and L’Orage. He has attended many folk and early music festivals and has held several workshops and masterclasses in Italy, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the UK, Finland, Spain, and the USA. He recorded several CDs, amongst other his latest record “The Hurdy-Gurdy at the French Royal Court” in 2021 with his Baroque Duo.

In 2015 he won the first prize at the hurdy gurdy ‘solo’ competition at Le Son Continu festival in Chateau d’Ars, France, getting the title of ‘Maître sonneur’. Since 2011 he held regular masterclasses and courses in Germany and in his hometown as well as concerts with his projects. At present, he plays with Trigomigo, Tre Martelli, in solo project, his Baroque Duo “Les Vielleux de la Reine” and teaches in Torino, Cuneo and Frankfurt.


Ron Höllein is a German hurdy-gurdy player who grew up in Coburg (GER) and whose musical journey began with self-taught guitar playing at the age of 12.

In 2018, he finally found his way to the hurdy-gurdy, taking regular lessons and master classes with internationally renowned hurdy-gurdy virtuosos, such as Tobie Miller (CH), Simon Wascher (AUS), Till Uhlmann (GER) and Johannes Geworkian Hellman (SE).
In 2022 Ron Höllein achieved the first prize of the „Concours soliste de la Vielle à Roue“ at the festival „Le son continu“ in Chateau d’Ars (FR).

Since 2022 he has been playing together with Francesco Giusta (IT) in the baroque hurdy-gurdy duo „Les Vielleux de la Reine“, which has set itself the task of breathing new life into the duo repertoire of the 18th century composed for the instrument. Les Vielleux de la Reine regularly play concerts in Germany, Austria, France and Italy.

Ron Höllein has been studying Early Music at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Trossingen (GER) since October 2023.

All the pictures on this website have been made by Bettina Zajonc | Farbhase Fotografie https://farbhase.de or Instagram