Elsa Patricia Ramirez-Hacker
Composers around the world have found the poetry of Federico García Lorca a source of inspiration for solo and choral works. Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco used seven texts from Lorca’s Poema del Cante Jondo (Deep Song Poems) in his work Romancero Gitano , op. 152, for choir and guitar. The purpose of this study is to provide a conductor’s guide to the poetic, historical, and musical structure of the cante jondo. Cante jondo or “deep song” is considered the most serious and profound collection of songs in Flamenco music.
These songs express the history and landscape of the Andaluc√≠an region. Donn Phoren provides a better understanding of the emotive background of cante jondo songs. He declares that cante jondo songs are “emotionally compared with the authentic blues of the Negroes of the southern United States.” 1 The poetry of Lorca, combined with the music of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Romancero Gitano op. 152 for choir and guitar, illustrates the essential characteristics and heart of the cante jondo. The heart of the cante jondo is contained in three essential elements: 1) themes such as suffering, death, love, betrayal, and hate; 2) the guitar instrumentation, and 3) the musical rhythmical structure.
This study will help conductors understand the general differences between cante jondo and Flamenco musical styles. Those differences are derived from geographical influences, formal conventions, forms, and characteristics of singing styles. Through Tedesco’s choral work, Romancero Gitano, op. 152, conductors and performers can capture examples of how compelling cante jondo is to human emotions. Emotions such as rage, love, betrayal, hate, and death are transformed into interpretative tools that cantaores (singers) use to communicate the essence of the style. Additionally, conductors will find the intrinsic relationship between music and poetry based on cante jondo elements in a choral setting. This study explains the relevance of the cante jondo contest and the importance of Garc√≠a Lorca’s poems. Furthermore, it provides an account of people, places, and events that shaped the lives of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Federico Garc√≠a Lorca. 1. Donn E. Phoren, The Art of Flamenco (Jerez de la Frontera: Editorial Jerez Industrial, 1962), 43.