- Lorca in Tune with Falla: Literary and Musical Interludes by Nelson R. Orringer
The first academic book-length study of its kind to examine in depth the artistic relationship between Spanish poet Federico García Lorca and Spanish composer Manuel de Falla, Nelson R. Orringer’s Lorca in Tune with Falla: Literary and Musical Interludes offers an excellent reconstruction of early twentieth-century cultural tendencies related to art, music, poetry, and theatre in Europe. As he studies Lorca’s influence on Falla, and Falla’s impact on Lorca, Orringer convincingly argues that, unlike what some critics have suggested, neither would have reached their highest potential of creative genius without the other. He recognizes some of the “tenuous comparisons” made between Lorca and Falla in past scholarship and sets out to examine more extensive “blocks” of Falla’s musical scores together with “blocks” of Lorca’s poetic reality (primarily that of Poema del cante jondo and Romancero gitano), thus engaging the common analogical plots, moods, and structures of their works.
Some of the key examples that serve as the foundation of this relationship include Falla’s (and later Lorca’s) interest in folk music and gypsy themes, their joint collaboration during the 1922 Cante Jondo contest in Granada, and Lorca’s introduction of Falla to puppet theatre. Following the introductory chapter that outlines Orringer’s proposal to pursue the Lorca-Falla connection, the book contains eleven short, manageable chapters that offer close readings of the poems and musical scores of interest. Chapter one focuses on Lorca’s artistic creativity (such as in the Suites and Canciones) before his contact with Falla, the “omnipresence in young Lorca of musical genres,” and highlights how his interest in music from an early age prepared him for the more serious consideration of literary-musical interludes that he would encounter after his introduction to Falla in 1920. Chapters two to eight study Falla’s and Lorca’s work [End Page 437] through Poema del cante jondo, with each chapter focusing on different deep song modalities or genres found in both creator’s works, including the poetic divisions of the siguiriya, soleá, saeta, and petenera. Orringer succinctly explains the “Alhambrism,” “formal liberties,” and melancholy of Falla’s Fantasía bætica, studied in concert with the structural and thematic impulses of “Baladilla de los tres ríos,” “La guitarra,” “Pueblo,” “Procesión,” “Lamentación de la muerte,” “Baile,” the “Seis caprichos,” and other poems from Lorca’s collection.
Chapters nine to ten consider the gypsy and deep song themes of the poems of Lorca’s poetic collection, Romancero gitano. Orringer underscores Lorca’s and Falla’s mutual interest in these themes since “the Andalusian Gypsy allows access to the essence of Andalusia.” These chapters offer a compelling justification for the Lorca-Falla artistic association by closely examining texts including “Romance sonámbulo,” “Muerto de amor,” “Preciosa y el aire,” and the three Andalusian archangel poems. To the motifs of “fatalistic symbolism” in Falla’s El amor brujo, La vida breve, and Noches en los jardines de Espan˜a, Orringer rightly contends that Lorca’s poetic collection adds a “tragic inner gnawing.” In chapter eleven Orringer includes commentary on different sonnets, tributes, and homages that Lorca wrote to Falla, thereby emphasizing the lasting impact the composer had on Lorca’s life and creative production. The conclusion of Orringer’s insightful book expounds on additional connections that further highlight the Lorca-Falla relationship, most notably the presence of Falla’s Fantasía bætica and his arrangement of “A Córdoba” in Lorca’s Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías.
The result of Orringer’s clearly organized and well-written study is a fascinating and in-depth look at Lorca’s and Falla’s work alongside one another. The volume is replete with interesting comparisons and similarities between the artists’ works. Perhaps even more intriguing are the subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences that Orringer discusses. He notes, for example, that while Lorca and Falla shared a common interest in many aspects of...