Maurice Ravel’s heritage is ‘in peril’

Maurice Ravel’s heritage is ‘in peril’


norman lebrecht

June 17, 2016

That’s the alarmist headline in today’s Le Figaro.

It is founded on a secret recent attempt by the Ravel estate to keep Bolero from falling out of copyright and a parallel appeal by the Friends of Ravel to return the composer’s scattered manuscripts to France.

We print the appeal below. But we cannot see why Maurice Ravel’s precious legacy will be in any way endangered if his manuscripts are professionally curated – as they are – in the world’s leading museums and libraries. Ravel himself never requested such a thing. The idea of turning Ravel into national treasure was his brother’s.

The appeal looks like a case of Frenchmen crying wolf.

maurice ravel smoking



International appeal for the return of all missing documents and property of Maurice Ravel to the care of the public archives in France.

In his will of 18 July 1958, Edouard Ravel (1878-1960), younger brother and sole heir of the composer Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), bequeathed Le Belvédère, the composer’s home at Montfortl’Amaury, to the Réunion des Musées Nationaux in order to create there a Ravel museum in memory of his brother.

On 27 October 1959 Edouard Ravel gave to the Ville de Levallois some of the composer’s belongings which came from his second home in this town. Edouard Ravel had also expressed in writing the wish that property of any kind which may have belonged to the composer should be preserved, especially his manuscripts and autograph sketches.

The association of Les Amis de Maurice Ravel was established with the aim of guarding the composer’s memory. It is launching an appeal for the return of all of the missing documents and property of Maurice Ravel to the care of the public archives in France, where they may be freely consulted. Anyone who supports the terms of this international petition may sign it by writing to the offices of the association, by post or by e-mail. The list of signatories will be published on the association’s website:


  • MacroV says:

    They might do a better service to Ravel’s heritage if they reclaim the copyright to Bolero and then ban further performances. Even Ravel supposedly hated the idea of being known for that piece. But the royalties…

  • John Borstlap says:

    I thought that the real problem was the pirating of Ravel’s royalties by a shadowy group of distasteful people, getting all the performing right payments, while the Musée Ravel (his house) is crumbling because of the lack of funds.

  • Richard Dubugnon says:

    I bet Norman is going to vote for the Brexit on Thursday. Aren’t you, Norman ?