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News and comments and events relating to Granada, 'the city where anything is possible, Granada, 'la bella y la bestia, and Federico Garcia Lorca's complicated love-hate relationship with the city, etc


Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Sun, March 17, 2019 10:56:49
From his earliest days, Lorca was keenly aware of social injustice, inequality and the suffering of the poor “from the deepest roots of his generous condition”. (We have this from his brother, Francisco.) Nevertheless, in spite of his sensitivity to social evils, Federico was never a political activist. Even though Fernando de los Ríos, who was one, befriended him early on, the poet never belonged to the dedicated group of student followers that the Professor of Law won at the University of Granada in those years after his appointment in 1911.

When Spain’s political and economic crisis reached its climax in Granada on 11 February 1919, with a demonstration of students throwing stones at the house of the Mayor, Felipe La Chica, and three citizens getting shot dead, Lorca locked himself in his room for the duration of the disturbances and refused even to look out from his balcony, where demonstrations took place daily right in front of his flat, in the Acera del Casino, close to Puerta Real*. (This is from his friend, the painter Manuel Angeles Ortiz.) “I frequently went to Federico’s place to keep him informed of the latest events, for during the two weeks that the incidents lasted, he never left the flat.” Any kind of violence went against his sensitive nature, concludes the painter.

Lorca’s caution was perhaps not so excessive, when one considers that one of the three fatalities on that fateful February day was Josefa González, a young housewife, who was hit by a stray bullet fired from nearby Plaza del Carmen while she was in the interior of her parents’ home in calle (street) Reyes Católicos, on the corner of calle Mariana Pineda*. In fact, only one of the three victims of the Guardia Civil’s repression of that day’s student demo was actually taking part in the protest. He was local medical student Ramón Ruiz de Peralta, shot in the head by a zealous Guardia Civil agent. The third casualty was railway worker, Ramón Gómez, father of a seven-year-old girl, who just happened to be passing by the puente del Carbón* (calle Reyes Católicos) when he was killed.

Tangible outcomes resulting from these deaths were a minor shake-up in the corrupt electoral system and Fernando de los Ríos’s commitment to socialism, joining the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and getting elected to the Spanish Parliament in June that same year.

The protests were directed against corruption in the municipal administration and most specifically at the liberal “cacique” (despot) Felipe La Chica whose turn it was to be in office. “Caciquismo” was still rife in Granada, with conservative and liberal politicians conniving to rig election results, dividing up sinecures and influential public posts between them, raiding the municipal coffers to their own benefit, and aided and abetted by corrupt civil servants who wholeheartedly joined in the graft by falsifying official documents, including voting lists and election returns. All of this occurred against a backcloth of economic crisis and poverty, hardship and want for the mass of the population.

There is little trace of these events and circumstances being reflected directly in the works of the poet. Nonetheless, Lorca was not indifferent to what happened and we find his name in a list of signatories to a telegram of protest from the Centro Artístico addressed to the President of the Council of Ministers which was published in the Gazeta del Sur on 15 February. The telegram, while ostensibly trying to avoid taking sides in the political struggle, condemned and protested energetically against the violence of the suppressive measures while taking a clearly critical position vis-à-vis the practices of local despotism and calling for the resignation of La Chica, who was indeed subsequently suspended from office.

* See the forthcoming blog for an outline of the location of these places: Acera del Casino, Puerta Real, Plaza del Carmen, calle Reyes Católicos, calle Mariana Pineda,and Puente del Carbón.

Acknowlwdgements to: José Luis Delgado, Granada Hoy, 10 Feb 2019

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Diego Bermúdez Cala

Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Sat, February 02, 2019 17:12:58

Diego Bermúdez is not a name that immediately comes to mind in association with the creative life of the poet Federico García Lorca, but under his nickname, el Tenazas (Plyers/Pincers), you might recognise him as the surprising winner of the 1922 Cante Jondo Competition organised primarily under the auspices of musician Manuel de Falla, supported by a handful of Granada’s cultural elite, Lorca included, of course.

For Manuel de Falla, the cante jondo and in particular the siguiriya was the outstanding form of contemporary popular musical expression that had kept its purity over centuries and had its roots in the ancient traditions that the gypsies had brought with them from their origins on the Asian continent.

Diego Bermúdez, el Tenazas , el Tenazas de Morón, had helped keep this tradition alive, largely thanks to his friendship with and admiration for the cantaor Silverio Franconetti, recognised as one of the historic greats of flamenco music and who merits a vignette in Lorca’s poem Poema del cante jondo, inspired by the Competition. Franconetti is reckoned to have rescued from oblivion some of the finest primitive forms of gypsy song.

Lorca speculates in his “Portrait of Silverio Franconetti” on how the “dense honey” of his Italian ancestry might have blended with the Andalusian lemon in his rendering of the “deep song”. People who knew him said their hair stood on end and mirrors shattered at the sound of his heart-rending cry. For Lorca, his music, once so definitive and pure, represented the last echoes of that fading tradition.

Diego Bermúdez was, then, one of the few performers to have first-hand experience of this old style of flamenco, to which his own clear and powerful voice would prove that it could still lend an unexpected intensity. One might say that these were, indeed, the last echoes of that legendary music of an almost bygone age.

He was born in Morón de la Frontera (Sevilla), in 1852(?) and died, in dire circumstances, in spite of the recognition his prize must have given him, in Puente Genil (Córdoba) in 1933, where he was already living at the time of the Competition in 1922. He was born into a rural, practically peasant environment, but at the age of 25 he gave up working the land to dedicate himself to his singing, making a name for himself as an entertainer at public and private parties and gatherings throughout Sevilla y Cádiz.

Although Lorca wrote his poem and his talk about the cante jondo before the competition itself, we may say that El Tenazas’ voice fulfilled to perfection the essence of the Deep Song as understood by Falla and his like-minded peers. The gypsy siguiriya, said Lorca in that talk (Arquitectura del cante jondo) starts with a heart-rending cry: “A cry which splits the landscape into two ideal hemispheres. Then the voice stops and gives way to an impressive and measured silence.” This is given poetic expression in Poema de la siguiriya gitana, from which I quote, selectively:

“The ellipse of a cry goes from hilltop to hilltop. From the olive trees, it will be a black rainbow against the blue night. - Oh! - Like a viola bow, the cry has made the long strings of the wind vibrate” ...

[La elipse de un grito,/va de monte/a monte. De los olivos,/será un arco iris negro/sobre la noche azul.//¡Ay!// Como un arco de viola,/el grito ha hecho vibrar/largas cuerdas de viento.]

... while the “ondulating silence” that follows is a silence in which valleys and echoes slip and slide and by which heads are bowed towards the ground.

[donde resbalan valles y ecos/y que inclinen las frentes/hacia el suelo.]

This contextualisation gives us some idea of the wonder and awe El Tenazas’ voice suscitated in the hearts and minds of the Competition’s organizers, as described by Manuel Orozco Díaz in his Figuras en la Granada de Lorca: What started in a murmur ended in the tremendous heart-shattering, violent and brutal cry that made them all shiver with that a rare thrill of authenticity and succumb to the emotion of the performer’s powerful spell.

With his training in the school of the honoured and acclaimed Silverio Franconetti, El Tenazas must have fancied his chances in the Competition, because he set off to walk the 100-odd kilometres between Puente Genil and Granada to take part. That he needed the money need hardly be added.

What appealed to Falla here was the musical purity of the traditional form that he felt had been devalued by the degenerate milieu that had enveloped the cante, where the proud tradition of “our old popular songs” had been reduced to little more than pub sing-songs, easy listening, and somewhat ridiculous in the minds of the majority of people.

But what the purist Falla found hard to accept was that this milieu become to a certain extent part and parcel of the gypsy flamenco performance. Orozco says that while Falla delighted in El Tenazas singing, he found the vulgarity and obscenity of much of his conversation hard to stomach. He also quotes the violoncellist Segismundo Romero as confiding in him, saying: “You understand now, Manolo, Falla’s regret with Amor Brujo, don’t you? He seems to imply that Falla re-wrote this work as a more classically orchestral piece, distilling it of its more low-life Andalusian folk elements, removing the possibly banal dialogue and reducing the flamenco-like vocals from the first version, dissatisfied as he was with its gypsy orientation and storyline, with its more blatantly cantaora voice.

Lorca was more at home with the expressions of unbridled passions, as likely as not to end in a knife fight, that was the stuff of flamenco, as can be seen in sections of the Poema: Puñal and Sorpresa from Poema de la soleá to give two examples. This was less a part of the tradition that attracted de Falla.

El Tenazas, it seems, was no stranger to the world of gang fights or family feuds and himself received a life-threatening knife wound that pierced his lung and affected his ability to perform. Yet this handicap was also a sort of asset in the context of “deep song”. For deep song was the expression of the life experience of its performers and its audiences which the now 70-year-old singer gave free reign to at the Cante Jondo Competition, casting his spell on his appreciative audience, reducing them to tears of compassion and emotion. El Tenazas’ performance , we can imagine, was the net product of a lifetime’s experience of poverty, hardship, marginalisation and oppression that at last found an outlet.

Falla, the old ascetic, and Lorca, the young hedonist, had a lot in common as well as a great deal of respect for each other’s artistic endeavours, but at the same time their contrasting character and lifestyle were the cause a fair amount of friction between them. Their differing outlook comes to light here in their approach to the cante jondo, perhaps for the first but not for the last time.

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The Crime of Níjar and Blood Wedding

Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Fri, December 28, 2018 20:20:45

The Crime of Níjar and Blood Wedding/Bodas de sangre.

It didn’t take Lorca as long turning ‘real events’ into great drama with this case as it did with The House of Bernarda Alba, completed after a creative process that lasted a dozen years or more (blog post #93). Lorca got fascinated by ‘the crime of Níjar’, as did half Spain, when he read about it in the papers in July 1928. The first performance of Blood Wedding duly followed in March 1933 (starring Josefina Díaz as the Bride).

The ‘real events’.

The crime the play is based on took place on the night of 22/23 July 1928. The Wedding celebrations referred to were to take place in the Cortijo del Fraile, a prominent farmstead in the heart of what is today the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Nature Park; the marriage in the nearby church of Fernán Pérez.

The bride-to-be’s real name was Francisca Cañadas Morales. The man she tried to run off with just before the wedding ceremony was Francisco Montes Cañadas, her cousin. The wedding was being celebrated in the Cortijo del Fraile because the bride’s father ran the farm operations there on behalf of its owner.

A few kilometres south of the Cortijo, on the dirt road that runs east-west between Rodalquilar and Los Albaricoques, the fleeing couple were overtaken and Francisco Montes was shot dead, with three bullets in the head. Francisca was later found with serious injuries to the neck and throat. Someone had tried to strangle her. She claimed not to have recognised the people who attacked them, which everyone agrees is an unlikely story.

True-life protagonists: Francisca and Carmen Cañadas Morales; Casimiro and José Pèrez Pino

José Pérez Pino and Carmen Cañadas Morales were found guilty of the crime. A married couple, José was the brother of the bridegroom, whose name was Casimiro, while Carmen was the bride’s sister. These two had probably been prime instigators of the arranged wedding between Francisca and Casimiro.

Francisca was nicknamed Paquita la coja, Lame Paquita, and had been set up by her father to inherit the family property in nearby El Hualix with a respectable dowry. The father was thus trying to atone for the bad conscience he had about his daughter’s handicap. Carmen Cañada and José Pérez saw the marriage of Paquita and Casimiro as a way to prevent this inheritance slipping out of their reach and into the hands of ‘outsiders’. Paquita was known to be unenthusiastic about the arranged marriage and preferred her cousin Francisco Montes all along.

The facts were just the seeds of Lorca’s poetic drama. In Bodas de sangre Lorca has the lovers flee after the wedding, on horseback, not on a mule. Lorca’s Bride was attractive, and not lame. Leonardo, the only named character in the play, is already a married man, with a new-born child, and another on the way; whereas Francisco Montes was single. In the play, Leonardo and the Groom kill each other in a knife fight under the auspices of the silvery Moon. Lorca finds no role in the killing for the in-laws Carmen and José, nor for a firearm. Knives and horses had a recognised and specific symbolic value in the works of the world-famous Andalusian poet.

Lorca also exaggerated the difference between the Bride’s and the Groom’s family background. Lorca has the Groom’s mother boast about the vineyards and fruit trees that her husband had planted on their evidently much more fertile property. This is pure invention. The Bride’s father, by contrast, is proud of his skilful cultivation of esparto grass, a plant used for basket weaving and similar handicrafts, the only crop that could thrive in the harsh and arid climate where he lives. These facts, as far as they go, do correspond to the actual conditions of the Cortijo del Fraile, although out of this fairly impressive farmstead Lorca converts the Bride’s home into a relatively modest cave-dwelling, more typical of Granada than of Almería. Again, the symbol-laden contrast between fertility and barrenness is a familiar Lorca theme.

Interpreting the real events.

When Bodas de sangre was first performed in 1933, the local journalist Carmen de Burgos had already two years previously published Puñal de Claveles, a story inspired by the same events. Her version adopted a clearly feminist point of view and had a happy ending.

Hers was the first of many retellings of the events that became popularly known as the crime of Níjar, the latest of which is ¡Llévame contigo, ahora o nunca! La historia jamás contada del crimen de Bodas de sangre (Take me with you, now or never! The previously untold story of the ‘Blood Wedding’ crime) written by Antonio Torres Flores and Ángel Miguel Roldán Molina and presented recently in the Lorca Centre in Granada, as reported by Enrique Abuín and Isabel Vargas in Granada Hoy, 12.12.2018. Their ‘previously untold’ story is based on a comprehensive and rigorously researched review of the documented events, which they take pains to place in their socio-historical context. The quote in the title of the book are the words with which Francisca supposedly exhorted her cousin, Francisco, to slip out of the cortijo together with her, leaving poor Casimiro napping, and which she repeated to the judge under oath at the murder trial. Torres and Roldán are confident they have written the definitive book when it comes to revealing the true facts behind the crime.

There have in fact been a series of retellings of the events, probably starting with the popular romances that circulated soon after the story appeared in the papers. The literary journalist Carlos de Arce Robledo marked the sixtieth anniversary of the crime with another book, with the straightforward title El Crimen de Níjar, purporting to reveal the ‘previously untold’ truth behind the events. In 2014 Josefina Góngora, grandniece of Francisca Cañadas, published a version of the story titled Amor y traición en el Cortijo del Fraile (Love and Betrayal in the Cortijo del Fraile) told from the bride’s point-of-view, which she felt had been under- or unfairly represented. While, last but not least, Paula Ortiz`s 2015 film La novia (The Bride) was more an artistic reworking of Lorca’s drama than any attempt to portray the real events.

One of the reasons why the crime has never lost its fascination is at least partly due to the behaviour of the protagonists after the events. Francisca Cañadas, who must have known more than she told about her almost-lover’s murder, lived with her niece’s family at El Hualix, the property which she inherited from her father and from which she rarely emerged until her death in 1987. She refused to see or talk to her sister Carmen who lived practically next door. Casimiro never crossed paths with his almost-bride Francisca and never spoke about the event even to his closest family before his death in 1990, 62 years after the crime.

The bare facts are so extraordinary and still open to interpretation it is hard to believe that the last word has been said on the matter, despite Messrs Torres and Roldán’s claim to have exhausted the material.

With the 100-year anniversary coming up, we can surely expect another flurry of new versions for 2028 giving their original angle on the happenings of that now distant summer night and the crime passionnel, or honour killing, that materialised in its arid heat and throat-clogging dust.

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The House of Bernarda Alba

Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Fri, December 21, 2018 18:57:20

The House of Bernarda Alba is now open to the public as the third Lorca-related museum on the Vega, where the poet-playwright first saw the light of day and learnt to walk, read and write, then started to write music, and finally drama and poems.

The first of these, in Fuente Vaqueros, where the poet-playwright was born on 5 June 1898, was opened to the public in 1986.

The second is the house in Valderrubio that his father bought in 1895 along with a deal of farmland along the banks of the River Cubillas. This house was the centre of Federico Senior’s commercial-agricultural operations for many years and was opened to the public as a museum and cultural centre in the Lorca Anniversary Year of 1998.

The house of the Alba family, Frasquita not Bernarda in reality, is built along the same functional lines as the other two, with two floors, storage space for grain and harvested crops, and a spacious courtyard for agricultural operations. When Valderrubio became an independent rural council in 2013 one of its priorities, finally achieved with its inauguration on 18 December 2018, was to convert the house into a museum.

The Alba family was one of three families which vied for social and economic prominence in the area, the others being García Rodríguez, the poet’s father, and Alejandro Roldán Benavides. For an account of the bitter inter-family and internecine disputes and rivalries between these three families that festered for over half a century I refer you to historian Miguel Caballero Pérez, whose study Las trece últimas horas en la vida de García Lorca (2011) identifies these conflicts and rivalries as a key factor leading to the murder of the poet in August 1936. See this blog’s post #64.

According to Javier Arroyo (El País, 19.12.2018), the role of Bernarda Alba was created specially for Margarita Xirgú who, after her acclaimed lead role in Doña Rosita la soltera, requested the part of “a villain” in Lorca’s next drama. That was in December 1935 and we know the new play, though not published or performed until many years later, had a public reading a few days prior to the nationalist uprising in July 1936 to a chosen section of Granada’s culturally sensitive bourgeoisie, among which would have figured relatives or friends of the Alba and Roldán families.

We know that Frasquita’s descendants did not welcome visitors and Agustín Penón was the only Lorca researcher that I know of who managed to get through the front door.

I managed to slip in the back when they were building the new flats next door, many years ago. See pics.

Lorca claims to remember Frasquita as a widow of advanced age who exercised a veritable reign of terror over her unfortunate unmarried daughters who he might occasionally cross in the street, always dressed in black, silent, their eyes downcast, avoiding eye and any kind of social contact.

The story goes that Frasquita Alba’s neighbour was Lorca’s Aunt Matilde, whose daughter Mercedes Rodríguez Delgado the poet was fond of and would visit with some frequency. The two houses shared a well built beneath the wall that divided the properties and through this well Lorca was able to eavesdrop on exchanges going on between members of the Alba household. These eavesdropping sessions provided Lorca with much of the material for his somewhat libellous play. “Change the surname, too,” his mother pleaded.

Be that as it may, it is known that Frasquita died in 1924, aged 66, that is, some eleven years before Lorca started working on the play with the villainous role requested by Xirgú. Not only that but, although she had five daughters, two by a first husband and three by a second, she also had two sons, one by each of her husbands. Furthermore, she was outlived by one year by her second husband, Alejandro Rodríguez Capilla. So we can that see the exclusively female composition of the household is an invention of Lorca’s, and that Bernarda is not Frasquita.

Another invention is the servant “La Poncia” working here, for although she lived in the village, she never served in this house. Says Ian Gibson. En Granada, su Granada …(1997).

The raison d’être of this new museum is, of course, first of all to focus on the importance of the work La Casa de Bernarda Alba, connecting it to the local customs and traditions of rural society in pre-Franco Spain on the one hand and to the village of Valderubio as a source of inspiration for the local universal poet-dramatist. Visits can be booked via during which a cast of actors will reproduce crucial passages from the play. The visit lasts an hour and a half, of which the performances take up some 40 minutes.


Enrique Abuín. Granada Hoy, 18.12.2018
Javier Arroyo. El País, 19.12.2018

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Leonard, Lorca, and the Little Viennese Walz

Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Sat, December 09, 2017 14:57:13


Leonard Cohen was a poet and some of his greatest inspiration he says he found in the works of Federico García Lorca. So great was his admiration, he actually called his daughter Lorca. But, as he said in his Fundación Principe de Asturias prize acceptance speech1, he developed his own voice; he knew he could never copy Lorca: he wouldn’t dare, so he never tried. On another occasion, he describes how he stumbled on Lorca’s universe of imagery- dawn throwing fistfuls of ants in his face, or thighs that slipped away like shoals of silver minnows’. He did not simply copy these images, he explains2; rather, they made it possible for him to find his own voice, which he defines as a sort of unique poetic ‘self’.

Cohen visited Lorca's birthplace in 1986

‘Take this Walz’ is, everybody knows, a homage to Lorca, and if it is a translation of ‘Pequeño vals vienés, it is quite a free one, where Leonard’s voice deviates significantly from Federico’s. To compare the works of the two poets, I will turn to a set of schemata that contrasts a classical approach to art with a baroque one, not in any historical sense, but as a general tendency applicable at any point of time. Here, ‘classical’ is used to talk about a style that is simpler and more restrained, aspiring to formal harmony and clarity via the balanced proportions of its parts. A baroque approach, by way of contrast, is formally less straightforward, with a more elaborate provision of detail, allowing a greater degree of emotional expression and conveying a richer sense of drama and movement. Within the framework of these schemata, which is explained in the Encyclopaedia Britannica3, I find Lorca’s poetry as more classically inclined, Cohen’s as more baroque.

To demonstrate my point, let’s compare the first stanza and refrain from the Spanish poem and the Canadian song (see below). Revealingly, Lorca uses 46 words to cover this ground; Cohen 67, half as many again. Cohen’s style is wordier, then: Cohen spells things out for us, in more detail, whereas Lorca is less condescending to his reader/listener. There are more discourse devices in Cohen, to help us follow his argument. ‘There’s’ occurs five times, with obvious, almost laboured parallel repetitiveness. In this repetitiveness we also hear the insistent rhythm of the walz in Cohen’s song, unrestrained, almost exuberant. The Canadian draws us in with ‘Now...’, making it sound more confidential (this is between you and me). Lorca itches straight in with ‘En Viena ...’ and ‘hay’ occurs just three times, to indicate (with one minor exception) a new simple sentence, and while his ‘y’ is used to link three noun phrases in one of the sentences, Cohen uses ‘and’ to link two clauses. So, in the six lines of the first stanza, Cohen uses as many as nine clauses to Lorca’s four: the three ‘hay’s plus ‘donde solloza la muerte’. Clauses, built round a verb, are necessarily more dynamic than noun phrases.

In Lorca, there is in fact only one action verb: ‘solloza’; whereas Cohen gives us six: ‘comes to cry/ goes to die/ was torn/ hangs’. There is much more movement, more drama, more telling here; Lorca’s walz is static by comparison. It is restrained and relies on a simpler, barely embellished structure. Cohen’s version more deliberately tugs on the emotions.

For Lorca ‘En Viena hay diez muchachas’ and he doesn’t tell us if they are ‘pretty women’ or not. Cohen’s song is more poetic in conventional terms. He gives us more detail, fills things in for us, is more visual. ‘A tree where doves go to die’ is easier to see than ‘un bosque de palomas disecadas’. Even 900 (windows) comes across as more precise, concrete than 1000 (ventanas), which appears to be more of a neat rough estimate than verifiable tangible fact. Finally, in the refrain, Cohen gives us the unexpected and visually powerful ‘with a clamp on its jaw’ for Lorca’s simple ‘con la boca cerrada’. Clamp = ‘abrazadera’, ‘grapa’, or ‘cepo’, something restricting by force and not simply closed. This is bold poetic translator’s license and lays bare a relationship that is not revealed in Lorca.

The great Leonard with the great Enrique Morente.

In the end, both poem and song offer us the same five images, rather startling in their juxtaposition; only in Lorca’s version, stripped down to the essentials, they make more of an impact: 1) ten girls, 2) a shoulder where Death sobs, 3) a wood of desiccated doves, 4) a fragment of the morning in the gallery of frost, and 5) a hall with a thousand windows. What are we to make of this? Fistfuls of ants thrown in our face! Lorca offers us little help.

So even in this little homage, Cohen takes care to maintain his own distinct voice. He knows that to copy would be fatal. Lorca’s verse, and his startling imagery, is rather a catalyst for Cohen. Cohen is giving us his view, while Lorca leaves more work for his reader/listener to do: his ‘self’ is harder to locate. And this observation is, I believe, generally valid for the poetic works of the two men.

But I may be wrong.

The official photographer at the casa museo in Fuente Vaqueros told me that Cohen asked him to leave the room where Lorca was born while he meditated in the youga lotus position. This photo is not in the room where Lorca was born and it is not the lotus position, though it is clearly in Fuente Vaqueros.





These are the lyrics I refer to:

Now in Vienna there’s ten pretty women
There's a shoulder where Death comes to cry
There's a lobby with nine hundred windows
There's a tree where the doves go to die
There's a piece that was torn from the morning
And it hangs in the Gallery of Frost
Ay, ay, ay, ay
Take this waltz, take this walz
Take this waltz with the clamp on its jaws

En Viena hay diez muchachas,
un hombro donde solloza la muerte
y un bosque de palomas disecadas.
Hay un fragmento de la mañana
en el museo de la escarcha.
Hay un salón con mil ventanas.
¡Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Toma este vals con la boca cerrada.

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Lorca's breakthrough

Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Fri, June 09, 2017 19:10:27

Lorca fought with some determination to establish himself as a poet and found himself frustrated in his mid-twenties when his play Mariana Pineda ran into trouble with Primo de Rivero’s censorship. The end of the summer 1926 finds Lorca at an impasse. His father is angry with him for what he sees as the lack of direction in his son’s life, with little apparent promise of any artistic success. He threatens to put an end to his idle versifying. “Summer is coming to an end and I’m left stranded without the least sign of any start to my work as a dramatic poet in which I have so much faith and which would bring me such happiness,” he writes to the theatre empresario Eduardo Marquina in the hope that this man might yet rescue Mariana Pineda for him.

Such is his desperation that he begins to toy with the idea of getting a proper job. At the beginning of September, he writes to his friend Jorge Guillén that he has decided to do the exams for the Chair of Literature. He tries hard to convince himself that he has a vocation for the academic life. "Tell me what I have to do,” he asks Guillén, who has just been appointed to the Chair of Literature in Murcia. “Remember I'm neither intelligent nor hard-working. A lazy-bones!"

Guillén’s good humoured and humorous reply seems to be designed to put the aspiring poet off from embarking on any academic career. “First, you must read a lot”, he says. “Not only poetry and prose, but also all the books that have been written about those poetry and prose works. And you must make notes of what you have read.” “But that’s not half so bad,” he continues, “for then you need to keep a file so that you can find all the notes that you have written. As a first step, buy a box to file your notes. That will impress your father no end and show him you are serious about your new academic bent.”

Salvador Dalí, for his part, is equally scathing about his friend’s new-found academic ambition. “Dear Federico, you’re not going to do exams for anything,” (he wrote laconically). “Persuade your father to leave you in peace to publish your books, that is what will make you famous ... “

“If Mariana were to be performed, I would win over my father once and for all,” Lorca predicted. And indeed he was right. The success of Mariana Pineda, when it was performed in Barcelona in June 1927, combined with the publication of Canciones also in 1927, and then followed by the extraordinary success of the First Gypsy Ballad Book, published in 1928, marked the literary break-through Lorca was seeking and after that parental pressure let up. Lorca’s father came to accept his son's literary vocation, and the poet was spared further traumas of having to look for a proper job.

Final note: As with other books published in his lifetime, Lorca gave all his friends and family copies of The Gypsy Ballad Book with a dedication inside the front cover. In the copy he gave to his parents, and only in theirs, he added in brackets after his signature the word “poet”, a telling gesture, asserting his finally achieved independence as a creative writer.

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Patti Smith pays tribute to Lorca - again

Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Sun, February 17, 2013 23:58:14

Joe Strummer is not the only lorquista on the progressive music scene. Patti Smith will take part in this year’s anniversary celebrations of Lorca’s birth (5 June 1898) once again – but this time in New York.

Patti Smith sang at the centenary celebrations at the Huerta de San Vicente in 1998 and she performed there again in 2008. But this time her tribute will be in New York as part of the great international Lorca event being put on by Columbia University.

When she was in Granada for the 2008 gig, Patti checked out on the progress of the Lorca Centre in La Romanilla, where in happier circumstances she might even have been performing and the completion of which she said then she considered important for contemporary and future contact between artists and the dead poet’s work.

Mindful, no doubt, of the deadlock that has prevented the opening of the Lorca Centre for so many years, Laura García-Lorca set about arranging the singer’s participation in the 5 June memorial in New York this year. She no longer puts her faith in a programme of activities at the Centre in La Romanilla after the fracas of 2011, when a great inauguration programme was planned and then had to be scrapped when the money dried up.

In addition to Patti Smiths’s New York performance, there will be an exhibition with the original manuscript of Poeta en Nueva York, acquired by the Lorca Foundation by auction at Christie's in 2003, a theatrical work based on the book starring Will King of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and a bilingual puppet show, all of them originally supposed to have been put on at the ill-fated inauguration of the Centro Lorca in 2011. Laura Garcia-Lorca will not be drawn on when she thinks the inauguration of the centre will finally go ahead.

The saga of the Lorca Centre has been previously been blogged in #post4, #post16, and #post18.

Dreams dreamed in Granada, city of dreams par excellence. Realisation in New York, city of action and enterprise.

Based on G. Cappa granada 13.02.2013

More on the frustrating delays to the opening of the Lorca Centre in Spanish by Jose A. Cano

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Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Wed, February 13, 2013 09:55:21


Lorca’s birthplace in Fuente Vaqueros on the Vega. On 5 June 1898. Links to the casa museo in Spanish:

and in English:

The future poet, one year old:


The Huerta de San Vicente - summer residence of the family from 1926 – 1936. Lorca returned here from Madrid in July 1936.

Spanish link:

Link in English:

A visit to the Huerta de San Vicente was ranked by Lonely Planet travellers as #145 of 146 things to do in Granada. Poor sods.


The nearby Huerta del Tamarit, which belonged to the poet’s uncle Francisco García Rodríguez from 1923. I took this photo some ywars ago.


Acera del Darro, 46. The family lived there while Lorca was still a teenager. Incorporated into today’s Hotel Monte Carlo.

The Acera del Darro at the turn of the twentieth century. Number 46 is at the level of the bridge. By Lorca's day the river was covered over as far as the bridge.


The family home in Valderrubio (then Asquerosa). Where they lived until they moved to Granada in 1909 and spent the summers until his father bought the Huerta de San Vicente.


The Cortijo de Daimuz Alto on the Vega. Another family property.


The house that belonged to Frasquita Alba La casa de Bernarda Alba – round the corner from the Lorca family home in Valderrubio. I took this photo some years ago.


Fuente de la Teja, the source on the banks of the River Cubillas, across the fields from Valderrubio/Asquerosa, where Lorca went to escape the heat of summer afternoons


The Camino de Fuente Grande, that road that runs between Víznar and Alfacar, from the Palacio de Cuzco to the Fuente Grande itself, running alongside the Moorish channel (acequia), past Las Colonias, the Barranco de Viznar, and the Parque García Lorca. Where Lorca spent his last hours after his disappearance from the Gobierno Civil on 17 August 1936.Lorca memorial monolith in the Lorca Park at Alfacar.


Last but not least, but a further off, el Cortijo del Fraile in Níjar (Almería), scene of the crime that inspired Bodas de sangre. Picture from Granada Hoy 12.1.13

The idea is for the Dirección General de Bienes Culturales (General Management of Cultural Assets) to declare these sites officially Lugares Lorquianos and so offer them better protection against further deterioration and in the end disappearance, which would be an incalculable cultural loss. For example, the Huerta del Tamarit was threatened by road construction not so long ago (see blog post19), as indeed was the Huerta de San Vicente in the 1970s. In Almería, the Cortijo del Fraile is in a very poor way after years of neglect and abandonment.

If you're not convinced the Dirección General de Bienes Culturales has the power to protect them, come and see them now, before they’re gone.

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