Author Jeffrey Greene will stop by WTJU Thursday afternoon, April 7, during Folk & Beyond to discuss his latest book, Masters of Tonewood: The Hidden Art of Fine Stringed-Instrument Making, out now on University of Virginia Press. Folk & Beyond airs Thursday afternoon from 4-7 (edt) at 91.1 FM and streaming at wtju.net.
The wood used by master craftsmen to create many of the world’s legendary stringed instruments—violins and cellos, mandolins and guitars—comes from seven near-mythic European forests. In his latest book, Jeffrey Greene takes the reader into those woodlands and into luthiers’ workshops to show us how the world’s finest instruments not only contribute to great musical art but are prized works of art in themselves.
Masters of Tonewood describes the “hidden life” of stringed instruments, beginning with the unique wood, expertly chosen and sometimes cured for decades, that gives them voices that rivet audiences. Greene takes us to forests in Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria, Romania, Poland, and the Czech Republic. We are introduced to the acoustical and aesthetic properties of the spruce that Stradivari treasured, and the mystery of why just one in a thousand maple trees contains decorative figuring worthy of the highest-quality instruments. Greene visits the greatest traditional centers of this craft, from Spain to the United States. He recounts the ideas and experiences of tonewood millers, luthiers, and musicians and discusses their concerns about environmental issues associated with a tradition dependent on ancient woodlands in a modern world.