Leonard Cohen’s allusions to his Conde guitar in his masterful 2011 Prince of Asturias Awards Speech resulted in an increased awareness of and interest in the tradition and craftsmanship associated with such instruments. A recently published story, Welcome to Madrid’s Conde workshop, guitar maker to the stars by Joe Duggan (The Olive Press: 7 Jan, 2017), speaks to the reaction of the Conde family to Leonard Cohen’s speech:
Following Leonard Cohen’s death in November, the celebrated international artist’s moving speech at the Prince Of Asturias Awards was widely circulated on social media, revealing an astonishing secret not even the Conde family knew. Cohen had played a Conde guitar for 40 years. The speech was an extraordinary, poetic homage to Spain, to flamenco and to Conde craftsmanship, with Cohen acknowledging the debt he owed … It came as a complete surprise to the Conde clan that one of the world’s most famous musicians had one of their guitars and actually attributed it to his success.
“When he bought the guitar from my grandfather, Leonard Cohen wasn’t famous, he was really young,” says Felipe Jr. My grandfather liked classical guitar and flamenco music… When they gave Cohen the Prince of Asturias prize he spoke and we were like, ‘Wow, he has one of our guitars’. We didn’t know. You don’t hear very often any words of gratitude from the artists that play your guitars.”
Credit Due Department: Photos by Gema Alonso