French court rules Ravel sole author of 'Bolero'

A French court has ruled that Bolero, one of the world's best-known classical music pieces, was written by Maurice Ravel alone, a financial blow both to his descendants and those of the man they said helped create it.

A court in Nanterre outside Paris on rejected claims that Bolero had been a collaborative work with Alexandre Benois, a celebrated Russian stage designer.

The work "consequently remains in the public domain", the court said in a statement on Friday.

Ravel's Bolero had its debut at the Paris Opera in 1928. The work, with its gradual build-up of a simple theme to a spectacular ending, was an immediate sensation.

Ravel died 10 years later, and his heirs earned millions of dollars until the copyright on the work expired in 2016, passing into public domain.

In France, copyright runs for 70 years after a composer's death, though additional years were added to make up for losses during World War II.

Copyright battle

But the heirs of Benois, a stage designer who worked on the original performance of Bolero, insisted he should have been credited as a co-author.

They were demanding a share of the proceeds, and because Benois died in 1960, that would have put Bolero back under copyright until 2039.

"The music of 'Bolero' was created especially for the ballet" and should not be considered as a standalone piece of orchestra music, a lawyer for the Benois estate told a French court in February.

(with AFP)

Read more on RFI English

Read also:
First international competition for women conductors hosted in Paris
Vivaldi's Four Seasons reverberates at Paris' Sainte Chapelle
A century of Charles Aznavour, storytelling crooner who rewrote the French songbook