Festival Flamenco Gitano
In 1965, three years after the successful start of the blues festivals, Horst Lippmann and Fritz Rau sent the first festival with authentic representatives of Flamenco Gitano on tour through Germany and other European countries.
Horst Lippmann and the gallery owner and jazz enthusiast Olaf Hudtwalcker solely selected gitanos from Barcelona and Andalusia whose singing (cante) is born in the depth of their soul. While flamenco as the blues is accompanied by a guitar, the dancing element was a new dimension of Lippmann’s and Rau’s productions.
It was a risk to present the art of flamenco, which up to that time had been performed locally in rather improvised form in bars and festivities, added by a strong interaction between flamencos and aficionados, on a tour to big cities in foreign countries where the performance would be on stages of concert halls and theatres. But these worries fortunately soon proved to be wrong as the audiences were carried away by the rhythmic hand clapping at the very opening of each show. The tour soon turned out to be great success, and the prominent flamenco researcher J.M. Caballero Bonald wrote: “…. exceptional artists spread over Spain were united for this festival to present a Flamenco group of the highest authenticity in the style of Andalusian gypsies beyond our borders”.
Claus Schreiner, founder of the publishing company Tropical Music, offers the following account about the Festival Flamenco Gitano:
In 1962 Horst Lippmann and Fritz Rau presented the first American Folk Blues Festival under the patronage of the German Jazz Federation. Rau was the concert and tour organizer, and Olaf Hudtwalcker, a gallery owner having his own jazz programmes broadcasted by the Radio Hessen, was the president. Hudtwalcker also lived for a while in Barcelona. Here he once took the Frankfurt jazz musician Albert Mangelsdorff, after his appearance at the Club Jamboree, to the adjacently located Flamenco bar. This was Mangelsdorff’s first meeting with flamenco, and Olaf Hudtwalcker saw how Albert Mangelsdorff embraced bailaor Caraestaca “because of his astronomic beat”. This made him think that the Frankfurter jazz fans were possibly closer to flamenco than the Spanish jazz musicians at that time. The exception being Pedro Itturaide, who in 1964 set the course for his flamenco-jazz project, which he realized three years later together with the guitarist Paco de Lucia. Flamenco and jazz are two very free forms of expression that allow much room for spontaneous improvisation and individual creation. Inspired by his idea, Hudtwalcker managed to get Horst Lippmann excited about authentic flamenco gitano and brought him to Spain.
Together with the Spanish gallery owner and flamenco adept Paco Rebes, Olaf Hudtwalcker later on in 1965 set up a first festival in Spain for Horst Lippmann. The set included the young and talented flamenco dancer Antonia Singla. During the first year of the festival, the then 17-year old La Singla quickly became an audience favourite in all the cities visited by the tour.
Hudtwalcker loved to tell the story how Antonia Singla as a 12-year old, had been called by the inimitable flamenco dancer Carmen Amaya to her deathbed in order to bless her.
Fritz Rau recalls: “The girl was at the time deaf-mute, but she danced like a witch from heaven.” Late autumn 1965, the festival was going to tour Germany. “Papa Singla brought his daughter by taxi from Barcelona. But the Spanish taxi broke down in Lyon and they had to change to a French one. However, the Spanish taxi driver got his car repaired and soon arrived in Frankfurt to make sure he would get his money.”
Eventually everything was settled and arranged, and twenty years after the 2nd World War ended, and just as the Germans were about to discover Spain as a holiday destination, the first tour of Festival Flamenco Gitano hit the road. It came exactly at the right time. Presenting the ‘other’ Spain, a Spain not easily seen from a tourist resort, the Festival was a success, and continued to tour in repeatedly new casts up into the 1970-ties. The interest for flamenco was re-ignited again in 1983 by Carlos Saura’s movie Carmen. The movie was accompanied by flamenco music played by Paco de Lucia, and eventually also paved the way for the Swiss flamenco dancer Nina Corti.
The first German tour of Festival Flamenco Gitano in 1965 also caught the interest of the record producer and publisher Siegfried Loch, owner of the ACT-Label. On 15 November 1965, he gathered the troupe in the old ball room of the famous Hotel Esplanade Berlin for a recording session. The hotel was situated in the middle of Berlin, close to the Berlin wall and at what was then considered to be ‘no man’s land’. During a long night he managed to record 12 tracks which came out as The Original Festival Flamenco Gitano 1965.
We end this short presentation of the origins of, and the 1965 tour of the Festival Flamenco Gitano, with the following lines by Siegfried Loch, written for the 1993 release of the record.
The Art of Flamenco
The authentic art of Flamenco was presented to a German audience for the first time by the promoters Lippmann & Rau 1965. This event left me profoundly impressed, similiar to my first experience of Jazz at a Sidney Bechet concert ten years earlier. Caught by spontaneous rapture I produced the ORIGINAL FESTIVAL FLAMENCO GITANO for records in Berlin on November 15th, 1965 for records (available as CD, EMOCIÓN 9301-2) A year later DA CAPO! was released by “Fontana”. The material of these two recordings build an important part of this present release.
Even today after 30 years these recordings have not lost any of their fascination and liveliness. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness about the art of Flamenco outside of Spain has not changed.
Far from being a genre of patriotic folklore Flamenco symbolises integrity, individualism and freedom. First of all it is the art of the Gitanos, the Spanish gypsies, “the music of the last children of God”?
In order to release exceptional recordings of Flamenco, old and new, the label EMOCIÓN was founded. This compilation of various forms of this art is meant to be an Introduction to the fascinating world of Flamenco.
Written in 2011.