Literary festival, Granada, 1922

From Ian Gibson’s biography, Federico Garcia Lorca:

* And then it was June. The Cante Jondo Festival was just around the corner and the excitement in Granada mounted day by day. At the beginning of the month Lorca took part in the concert that concluded the events leading up to the great event. It was given in the little pseudo-Moorish theatre of the famous Alhambra Palace Hotel, just up the steep street from Falla’s carmen, and comprised the reading, by Antonio Gallego Burin, of the maestro’s anonymous pamphlet on cante jondo; a recital by the Granada flamenco guitarist Manuel Jofre; Lorca’s recitation of several compositions from his Poem of Cante Jondo; and, to round of the evening, Andres Segovia doing something unheard of—showing that, when he felt in the mood, he was capable of playing flamenco, a genre for which he had little real affection. The following day the newspapers agreed that Lorca had been the star turn of the evening…

The competition was held on 13 and 14 June, in the Alhambra’s Plaza de los Aljibes, which had been decorated by the Basque painter Ignacio Zuloaga. Here on both nights a massive and gaily dressed audience filled the precinct to bursting point. [John B.] Trend published an account of those two unforgettable evenings (on the second of which there was a downpour) when he returned to England. He had been deeply impressed by the scene. “Wherever one looked there were exquisite figures in gay, flowered shawls and high combs,” he wrote…, “while many had put on the silks and satins of bygone days, and appeared in the fashion of the thirties and forties—the Spain of Prosper Merimee and Theophile Gautier, of Borrow and of Ford.”

The great surprise of the competition was the performance of Diego Bermudez Canete, ‘el Tenazas’ (‘Pincers’), an old cantaor, almost forgotten, who, so it was said, had walked to Granada all the way from Puente Genil, in the province of Cordova, a cross-country hike of some 80 miles. Bermudez sang the first night with powerful duende and carried all before him. The second evening, however, after a day’s tippling (sponsored, some averred, by his rivals), ‘el Tenazas’ was not in such inspired form….”





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