Claims in France to withdraw Ravel’s Boléro from public domain

Claims in France to withdraw Ravel’s Boléro from public domain


norman lebrecht

November 20, 2018

A claim has been made in France to take Boléro back into copyright, a move which would require orchestras to pay each time they played it.

Although Ravel’s copyright has expired, heirs to the stage designer Alexandre Benois are applying for him to be recognised as co-author. Benoit died in 1960. The copyright would then extend to 2031.

Le Figaro has the story.




  • The View from America says:

    Uh-huh. The stage designer helped compose the music.

    money money money money money …

  • Mick the Knife says:

    Greed, plain and simple.

    • V.Lind says:

      Presumably he thinks he has a claim, and some lawyer agrees.Perhaps it was left to him. Seems a bit late in the day to request is, however. But if he has a legal right, there it is. Pity. I don’t often hear it in a concert, but it tends to work in the odd programme — people enjoy it and it sets a good mood in the audience.

  • John Borstlap says:

    It was Ida Rubinstein who commissioned the piece, and she danced the main role in it. Choreography was by Nijinska, the sister of legendary Nijinski. Benois only made the decor designs. So, would all of these collaborators now still have a right to royalties? It is a ridiculous claim by descendants ignorant of copyright. If Benois himself had any right on copyrights on decors, which is in itself entirely ridiculous because a concert performance of Bolero does not include decors, he surely would have made such claim while still alive. Such claim would only be appropriate with staged productions which use his exact designs, originals or reconstructed designs.

    It is disgusting how the inheritance of this wonderful and highminded composer has been squeezed by parasites (as mentioned before on SD) and now again.

    • Rgiarola says:

      Bravo Borstlap. Money talks and bullshit walks.

    • “…Such claim would only be appropriate with staged productions which use his exact designs, originals or reconstructed designs.”

      I’ll note that copying doesn’t need to be exact to violate someone’s copyright. Alterations to someone else’s work won’t evade copyright problems.

  • Steve says:

    If that would do anything to reduce it’s number of performances then surely a good thing?..

  • Kevin says:

    Gosh, what a surprise that a lawyer agreed. WIn or lose, they’ll get their fee.

  • Lachera says:

    Adding an extra claimant is a standard trick of copyright attorneys to extend the life of copyright.

  • Anon! A Moose! says:

    Copyright is seemingly irretrievably broken and the law is headed in the wrong direction while culture is headed in a completely different direction. Instead of the rest of the world waking up and fixing it Canada just joined the rest of the world in its insanity. Orchestras are particularly hit by this as we’re large visible organizations that offer a convenient choke point; we don’t have the distributed nature of pop music that allowed napster and youtube to privilege revealed preference over the letter of the law.

    The rights holders and music rental companies have us all over a barrel, and their customer service, pricing, and attitude is about what you’d expect from a monopoly.

  • Spenser says:

    You gotta love the chutzpah of Benoits’ heirs.
    Co-author? Zut….
    They’re just in it for the francs. (Oops, sorry – the euros.)

  • 18mebrumaire says:

    So where does that leave the recently announced Ravel Edition (see Slipped Disc 6 October 2018)? Material for the industrial shredder?

    • Ravel Edition says:

      Until a possible court ruling on this case, the book, score and set of parts stay available, except for the USA and Ivory Coast where Bolero is still under copyright.

  • Rob says:

    That means orchestra’s can play the silent version…

    & avoid the charge.

  • IMSLP has 105 boleros in stock.

    Perhaps some of those could be dusted off.