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10 June, 2018
Ignacio Duran

From 2018 June 22 to July 8

Ten minutes walking distance from The Alhambra Palace Hotel.


“The Festival was born in the Alhambra to gather and to convey
the enormous heritage of great European musical culture”

A crucial part of what historian Juan Marichal called “the universalisation of Spain” took shape between the twenties and the thirties in 20th century Granada. This involved a twin movement of expansion and response, of dissemination and learning. The best of Spanish cultural tradition was projected towards an outside world breaking through the double barrier of ignorance and cliché and overcoming centuries of isolation. The best of those other worlds’ influences, inaccessible until then, reaches us, pollinates our culture and invigorates it.

Those are the years when Paris audiences are dazzled by the fictitious Granada of Falla’s “La Vida Breve” and “El Amor Brujo”, when “Noches en los Jardines de España” becomes a standard within the most demanding landscape of current music.This is the time in Granada when the mingling of novelty and tradition reaches its peak. Falla delves into the roots of flamenco’s ‘cante jondo’ and at the same time carries out a leap into modernity which will carry him at least as far as Stravinsky’s “Petrouchka” and “Histoire du Soldat”.

The sensation caused by the Paris premiere of “El Retablo de Maese Pedro” is international recognition of something very secret that was bubbling under the surface in Granada within the close confines of a city which was closed in on itself and yet was opening up to the world. It is the city of the Three Wise King Festivity of 1923 at the García Lorca home and of the doll and puppet workshop of the great and unfortunate Hermenegildo Lanz, hardly known to the outside world, who was creating puppets which were strangely similar to those being made at that same time by Paul Klee at the Bauhaus. What is amazing about Granada is the universality of what is being accomplished within its walls and what is being projected upon those walls by the creative imaginations of those who have never actually been there. All Debussy needed to compose one of his mysterious preludes dedicated to the Gate of Wine in the Alhambra was a postcard in pastel shades sent to him in Paris by Manuel de Falla; a prelude which evokes Granada for someone who is away from the city and which provides a glimpse for someone who has never visited. Granada is a real city and a place of the imagination.

Music is that last drop that finally causes an overflow of creative enthusiasm. A return to the best of those days is to run headlong again towards the best of the past and towards the most generous offerings that are yet to come. Both Falla and Lorca adored the tradition of popular song as well as that disturbing music that seemed to require a new way of hearing to be appreciated. They both knew how to work within the smallest scales and also within immeasurable proportions. In their daily work and in their desire to do things with the perfection advocated by another distinguished visitor to the city, Juan Ramón Jiménez – “Better more and perfect” – the two Granada artists were equal to the most elevated dreams that the city could inspire. The universal sound of their Granada sensitivity echoed throughout Europe, across the American cultured sectors of Buenos Aires and New York.

The Granada Festival of Music and Dance was born in the Alhambra to gather and to convey that heritage, to strengthen the link between the imagined city and the real one, between the popular and cultural Andalusian tradition and the vast legacy of the great European musical culture. This year, 2018, the centenary of the death of Claude Debussu provides a wonderful opportunity to summarise that inheritance and to underline what it contains, not of timelessness, but of uncompromisingly contemporary.

Antonio Muñoz Molina

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