12,000 Pesetas budget

The first thing that the lively tertulianos of Alonso Cano’s house had to solve was the financing of the 1st Flamenco Song Contest. According to their calculations, they should have at least 12,000 pesetas to cover the expenses. Who could finance the contest? They did not hesitate: the Granada City Council. The reasoned petition, in addition to an administrative request, was to be the first manifesto to save deep song. Since the promoters lacked a legalized society or corporation to receive the aid, they decided to delegate the Centro Artístico, which would thus become not only the depositary but also the administrator of the aid and of the profits from ticket sales. The decision, although logical, was the first mistake -perhaps an invincible mistake- made by the promoters, a serious failure that, in the end, reduced the stature of the ambitious project (which included the creation of deep song schools in Granada and Seville and a constant pedagogical promotion).

Patio of the Aljibes in the Alhambra in 1922, seat of the first Flamenco Song Contest.
Patio of the Aljibes in the Alhambra in 1922, seat of the first Flamenco Song Contest.

The document highlighted the great value of the primitive Andalusian singing and warned of the risk of its disappearance. To avoid the danger and awaken “our lyrical traditions” they proposed two phases: to hold the contest and then open a kind of singing schools in different Andalusian provinces where, for four or five months, the most prestigious old singers “initiate young people in those ancient songs”. The romantic idealization that drove them to search for the origin of deep song in distant cultures ended up clashing with reality.

Delegating to the Centro Artístico was a mistake -perhaps an invincible one- made by the promoters, a serious mistake that, in the end, reduced the stature of the ambitious project.

Prior to the competition there was “active propaganda through conferences” and articles so that people “of blunt sensibility” would not see in the contest only a “fantastic jamboree”. “Artists from everywhere will make a pilgrimage to it [to Granada, as the cradle of deep song] and all the sacrifices we make now will be lavishly rewarded”. That was the dream.

The request quantified the amount of the subsidy: no less than 12,000 pesetas, “which will serve as the basis for our program”, a figure in the opinion of the applicants “insignificant” given the repercussion of the contest that was to be held, they specified, coinciding with the Corpus Christi festivities in the San Nicolás Square, in the Albaicín, and which would serve as a tourist promotion. The petition had two distinct blocks of signatures: that of the directors of the Centro Artístico, chaired by Antonio Rodríguez Molina and with Antonio Gallego Burín as vice president, and that of the members of the National Music Society, with Manuel de Falla as director.