Flamenco – An Englishman’s passion – Introduction
by Tony Bryant
Al Andalus; the Moorish name for the mysterious, romantic area at the edge of Southern Spain.
Its Arabic past is evident and recalls the near 800 years that the Moors ruled here. In Seville there is the magnificent Giralda tower, built between 1172-1195, in Granada, the breathtaking Alhambra Palace and the colossal Mezquita in Córdoba, the Muslim capital of Al Andalus.
Andalucia is a place full of life, colour, romance, music and dancing, of plucked guitar strings and the snapping of fingers and clicking castanets, of happiness and sorrow, of artistes, poets and writers – but most of all it is a place of passion, culture and history.
It is a hard and dusty mountainous landscape, where men dressed in gold-trimmed suits do battle with massive bulls in a ring that echoes the shouts of Roman gladiators.
It is a land of wine and sherry, of olive groves, and of fruit trees, their burdens ripening in the burning sun.
Andalucia is a land where strange ritual celebrations occur during the Easter week, scenes of the passion parade through the streets, trumpets blaring, drums and cymbals crashing, and people casting themselves before the pasos, sobbing uncontrollably. It is a land of fiestas and celebrations, where one week of the year every town has its feria, a week of dressing up in traditional costume to parade through the streets during daylight and party at the fair into the dark hours.
The pagan ritual of Fiesta de San Juan, held in June, is where sins are burned over a bonfire on the beach and the soul is purified in the sea at midnight.
Andalucia is the place that, in the early 15th century, a race of people called the Zincali made their home (see The Zincali, An Account of the Gypsies of Spain by George Borrow). They were met with mixed feelings of fascination, mystery, revulsion, and fear. Cali is their language and calo is the name by which they refer to themselves. In Spanish they are known as gitanos – gypsies.
Flamenco – an Englishman’s passion is a story of one of its cultures and of a passionate love of music. Perhaps it might answer the oft-asked question of how an Englishman can hold such a burning passion for a culture so different to his own. I have no idea how it came to be so intense, I only know that to discover something that can make one feel as I feel, something that has touched my life and my soul in such a mystical way, is a precious gift.
Read the Foreward to Flamenco – An Englishman’s passion by Andrew Linn here.
To learn more about Tony Bryant – visit his blog.
Cover photo to Flamenco – An Englishman’s passion: La Fernanda de Utrera and Miguel Funi, 1973 Feria de Moron. Picture by kind permission of Mark Johnson.
Books4Spain has a varied and interesting selection of books ranging from subjects such Flamenco, the Spanish Civil War, Camino de Santiago as well as Spanish Literature in translation, Crime Fiction set in Spain, Novels set in Spain, Spanish Food & Drink books, etc. etc. and about Spanish authors and artists such as Federico García Lorca, Salvador Dali, Picasso, Franco, Bunuel etc.