The Tree Whisperer: One Man’s Quest for Stradivarius Wood

Spruce trees like these might someday grace the world's stages as concert violins.(Photo: gobelcoque (Flickr))
Spruce trees like these might someday grace the world's stages as concert violins.(Photo: gobelcoque (Flickr))

When you take a walk through the woods, you’re probably reflecting about the fresh scent of the air or the invigorating bird calls swirling about. Not so for Lorenzo Pellegrini. When he sees trees he thinks about whether or not they could make it to the concert stage.

Pellegrini, 83, has a keen eye for potential resonance spruce, the centuries-old wood whose density and dryness give it such sonic resonance that it’s worthy to be made into the world’s finest musical instruments, according to BBC News.

Growing up in the mountains and forests of Italy’s Abruzzo region gave Pellegrini a sixth sense for the trees around him. For the last 53 years he’s been working Switzerland’s Risoud Forest, where he searches through the trees, noting their branches (too many branches mean knotty wood, which means compromised resonance) and other features that could immortalize them as musical instruments. He also notes the position of the moon and the weather conditions, which must be just right when felling a tree from which an instrument will be made.

So Pellegrini’s not in any hurry. He can’t be. Elite musical wood takes time to mature, to gather the strength it will need in order to be the partner a great musician cannot live without. Pellegrini says trees have their own schedule:

Up in these mountains, they grow so slowly sometimes they stop growing altogether. They just gather strength. There are trees up here that are a thousand years old.

Read more: Stradivaruis Trees: Searching for Perfect Musical Wood (BBC)

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