Monday afternoon an era came to an end. Don E. Pohren, 78 years old, the man who with or without meaning to, became the absolute guru of flamenco for countless North Americans and other non-Spaniards, passed away at his house in Madrid after a long illness.
Author of various books that are fundamental for flamenco, most notably “Art of Flamenco” and “Lives and Legends of Flamenco”, both translated to a variety of languages, Pohren was awarded the title of flamencologist by the Jerez Cátedra de Flamencología. “Art of Flamenco” was published shortly before the legendary “Mundo y Formas del Flamenco” by Antonio Mairena and Ricardo Molina, but Pohren’s work has withstood the test of time far better, and has been reprinted and updated on various occasions, most recently just two years ago.
In the nineteen-fifties, Pohren, who was working near Morón de la Frontera, and already had a background in flamenco guitar, came across a person who would turn out to be pivotal in his life: Morón guitarist (born in Arriate), Diego Amaya Flores, “Diego del Gastor” (1908-1973). His admiration for Diego came through in his writings, always with a laidback entertaining style, inspiring scores of foreign flamenco fans to make the pilgrimage to the small town of Moron de la Frontera where Pohren had opened a center that provided food and lodging, as well as guitar and dance classes and frequent fiestas with key flamenco performers from Morón, Utrera, Lebrija, Alcalá and elsewhere. Morón artists like Diego del Gastor and Joselero, in addition to Fernanda de Utrera, Anzonini del Puerto and Miguel Funi among many others, were the focal points of the parties Pohren organized for his guests.
Even today, hundreds of Americans continue to search for the kind of non-commercial flamenco Don Pohren admired and defended. The popular group Son de la Frontera, made up of young musicians descended from Diego del Gastor, under the direction of Raúl Rodríguez, has managed to spread the essence of the music exemplified by the adoptive Morón guitarist that enthralled Don Pohren a half century ago.