The history of Flamenco


1, Introduction

" By the "documents" "contributed' in: A Su Paso por Sevilla, minimum part of the contents; it is not exaggerate to state that during this tempestuos time of the 19th century, Sevilla was the center, the capital of the art even though the most of its distinguished minds ignore it, reject it and condemn it.” José Luís Ortiz Nuevo – 1996

When we start to read a common book about the flamenco, it is not rare to discover 2 recurrent elements: the moment of the birth of flamenco and, it is not so constant but usual, what we understand by flamenco, how far does it gets, and if “ the other” is really the other or not. They are not going to be our concerns, even though we will maintain the general theories about the first question, with a singular look about what it is, how one organizes and which are its economic relations; and an open attitude about the second question, dealing the one that the “people” consider as flamenco.

To document it, we will be basing on words of different flamenco artists who state it through his /  her relation with the economic vision of this art.

As an artistic genre of Andalucía, which creation started during first half of the 19th century, the flamenco corresponds to the needs of identification of the modern Andalucian society, together with certain traditional and cultural expressions.

This duality between the tradition and the innovation, between the “ purity” and the “fusion”, characterizes the cultural critic conditions of the creation of flamenco music: it does not only explains the repeated attempts of intellectuals and politics to turn it into an unmistakable sign and “jonda ( deepness )” of the Andalucian identity, by means of resources of the “blood” and the “earth”, but also its obvious ambiguity, caused by the vitality of a genre which is anchored in the tradition, and the corresponding polemic among the enthusiasts, generated as a result of its dinamic and artistic avant- garde, on the one hand, and its canonization as cultural value, on the other. 1

 We can judge the flamenco in its origins of agricultural roots, and more if we consider, like different authors, that a period of preflamenco exists. But in its development and professionalization it turns into an urban art, and is going to have some singular infrastructures or adaptations for its evolution and confirmation. Fernando Quiñónez used to comment: “ The actual lines of cante flamenco were basically outlined in the 18th century and incubated in the previous centuries”.

 We find the first shows that contain flamenco in the theaters of the period. José Luís Ortiz Nuevo in ¿Se sabe algo?2 talks about them and the programs they used to perform. The Flamenco was performed in what we could call shows of varieties, and also in the ballrooms.  As Charles Davillier comments in his Viaje por España (1862) “... the dances which they perform sometimes in some establishments that take the title of academies and dance schools. Their directors never stop sending advertising programs to the hotels or the guest houses.”

1, Steingress, Gerhard: The trasncultural hybrid as a key of the formation of the New Flamenco ( historical – sociological, analytic and comparative aspects). Magazine Transcultural de Música nº8 – 2004

 2, Ortiz Nuevo, José Luís: ¿ Se Sabe Algo? Viaje al conocimiento del Arte Flamenco  in the newspaper of Sevilla of the19th century, Editions El Carro de Nieve, Sevilla, 1990.

Bibliography:  La Economía Sevillana del Flamenco ( Jan. 2009 )

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