Copyright expires on Bolero, world’s most famous classical crescendo

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PARIS: Almost 90 years after it was first performed in Paris, the copyright runs out on one of the most popular and unique pieces of classical music, Ravel’s “Bolero.”

“We are accustomed to say that a performance of Bolero begins every 10 minutes in the world. As the work lasts 17 minutes, it is therefore playing at all times somewhere,” said Laurent Petitgirard of France’s Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers (SACEM).

“And it is likely that we will hear it even more now, in advertisements or in films.”

Written in 1928 and performed on November 22 of that year at Paris’ Opera Garnier, the symphonic work, which grows steadily louder as it progresses, was originally a ballet piece ordered by Russian dancer Ida Rubinstein, a friend and sponsor of the French composer Maurice Ravel.

Immediately hailed by critics, it quickly became a worldwide success, even if the uniform melody and hypnotic, repetitive rhythm left some baffled.

“It is a simple and direct piece of writing without the slightest attempt at virtuosity,” said the French composer, who died in 1937.

Almost 90 years later, the work has been performed by some of the most prestigious orchestras in the world, under the baton of many of the top conductors, including Arturo Toscanini, Seiji Ozawa, Claudio Abbado and Pierre Boulez.

It also inspired a multitude of choreographic works, the best known probably being one created by Maurice Bejart in 1961.

AFP

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