Borletti-Buitoni Trust
01 December 2009

“El Duende”

by Christianne Stotijn

In Spain people speak constantly about “Duende” and recognize it with unfailing instinct when it appears.  Federico Garcia Lorca gave a famous lecture on “La Teoria y Juego del Duende”.  So in honour to Lorca’s creative force they have taken the name Duende which challenges us to keep our ears open to the ‘dark sounds’, to keep in touch with the ghosts of those who have come before, to never refuse the struggle which is needed to keep the spirits working on the side of truth!

As I am in Spain now, coming from the most inspiring time in Perugia at the house of Ilaria and Franco Buitoni where we found space to feel “earth”,and freedom to experience  the spiritual energy of Assisi, I am asking whether “duende” can only come upwards from the earth or whether “duende” creates itself and is always around us waiting to be recognized…

It is somehow very difficult to define this word which describes emotion and authenticity. It comes from inside as a response to music,with its roots lying in Flamenco.

But what interests me in particular is what is said in one of the articles about Lorca and “el duende” :

‘All that has dark sounds has duende.’ And there is no greater truth.

“These dark sounds are the mystery, the roots thrusting into the fertile loam known to all of us, ignored by all of us, but from which we get what is real in art…

“Thus duende is a power and not a behavior, it is a struggle and not a concept. I have heard an old master guitarist say: ‘Duende is not in the throat; duende surges up from the soles of the feet.’ Which means it is not a matter of ability, but of real live form; of blood; of ancient culture; of creative action.”

Walking in Assisi one feels such deep old roots,while walking on stones that fill the soles of the feet with a very powerful energy. I can’t explain why, but walking in Assisi, especially at Chiesa di San Damiano, the place where Franciscus wrote his “Cantico delle Creature” but especially the place where Santa Chiara has lived, I felt pure guilt in myself;  Again I can’t explain this but being there at the centre of religion of “creative religion” the question arises; Where have I been? What did I think? How can I make music without this silence, without this experience?

“It is known to all of us and ignored by all of us” ….

When you realize who has appeared at the unbelievable concert-series of Amici della Musica at Perugia one can only become silent. We were lucky to be invited to sing at the ‘Sala dei Notari’.  Staying at the house of Franco and Ilaria Buitoni was not only a complete luxury and treat but it opened up a realization of deep love for music and art. Together with soprano Sophie Daneman and pianist Joseph Breinl we prepared a very special trio-program with composers like Schumann, Brahms, Reger and Dvorak. This chance to exchange ideas and be together the three of us, exploring the music and understanding each other surrounded by books and paintings but above all the cultivated atmosphere created in this house was a rehearsing utopia!!

So our so-called tour began in Perugia! And where could we have a better start of the journey then at the paradise of Italy! Spain followed, Valladolid and Bilbao where we even had the chance to visit the wonderful Gugenheim-Museum. The museum feels like a moving dream as soon as you enter the space. Speaking about “Duende”, this place carries duende in form and imagination. As “Duende” means a fairy-or goblin-like mythological creature as well you imagine this huge “shell” as a home for goblins! Bilbao had a great tradition of art and music as well. The hall welcomed us by old pictures all around us of great musicians who all appeared in the more then hundred year old hall. A wonderful warm public surrounded us with Spanish grace and not to forget a very tasty Rioja afterwards. The photos of Claudio Abbado made me think of the exciting working-session in Bologna I was able to do just before arriving in Perugia. This thanks to the memorable concert last year in Berlin with Mitsuko Uchida.  After which I was invited to do a solo-recital at the Philharmonie in 2011. But before this something even more exciting will happen: Schönberg:  ‘Das Lied der Waldtaube’ and Schubert-Lieder with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Claudio Abbado!!

For this I need to have a lot of Duende!!!

Christianne Stotijn 27-11-2009

More information about Christianne Stotijn’s performances with Berlin Philharmonic on 14, 15, 16 May 2010 at

The concert on 16th May will be webcast live on Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall.

Visit Christianne’s website at