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Romance Anónimo & Tárrega

Hi everyone! Today’s piece from the Student Repertoire Series is Romance Anónimo (Spanish Romance)plus Estudio en Mi Menor by Francisco Tárrega. You can see past Student Repertoire pieces here.

Spanish Romance (a.k.a., Romance Anónimo) (c. 1900) is one of the most popular classical guitar pieces in history. This popular piece is also known as Romance, Romance de Amor, Romance d'Amour, Estudio en Mi de Rubia, Romance de Rubira, etc. In this video I have combined Romance Anónimo with Francisco Tárrega's Estudio en Mi Menor.


According to the latest music history research (Bellido, N. 2011; Martinez Pinilla, P. n.d.; Bellido, N. 2013) “Romance Anónimo” was written in Spain prior to 1901 and first published on a wax cylinder phonograph recording between 1897-1901 (Martinez Pinilla, n.d.). In a remastered audio recording by DOREMI (2017) titled “Andrés Segovia and his contemporaries Vol. 12: Tárrega, His Disciples and Their Students,” the track titled “Estudio para Guitarra” played by Simón Ramírez, is, without any doubt whatsoever, the same “Romance Anónimo” in question in every single musical sense: (Simon Ramirez - Topic, 2017). (*Wax cylinder phonographs were released in 1896 and discontinued in 1915 [Wikipedia, n.d.(b)]).

Musicologists Nacho Bellido (2011), Pedro Martinez Pinilla (n.d.) and Rico Stover (2013) point to either Antonio Rubira Peral (1821-1880) or Fernando Sor (1778-1839) as the probable composers of Romance Anónimo concluding, at the same time, that authorship of the original work remains unknown. Despite this fact, Narciso Yepes fraudulently claimed authorship of this work c. 1950 and even held a copyright to Romance Anónimo in Spain; however, after the truth of this matter was made public, all publications of Romance Anónimo listed Yepes as the arranger, NOT the composer (Bellido, N. 2011).

The creators of the movie ‘Jeux Interdits’ (1952) also hold a copyright to Romance Anónimo but only for their orchestral arrangement of the piece. Like Yepes’ arrangement of Romance Anónimo, the Jeux Interdits arrangement is considered a derivative work of the original piece, not the original work of authorship. According to Title 17 of U.S.C. § 103b “The copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the material contributed by the author of such work, as distinguished from the preexisting material employed in the work, and does not imply any exclusive right in the preexisting material."

No one can claim copyright protection for “restored works” under title 17 of U.S.C. § 104A (Copyright in Restored Works) either since the original recording (i.e., see DOREMI 2017’s remastered copy) was, and remains, completely intact musically, aurally and physically and was thus not restored. Additionally, since the original work’s authorship was not registered as either anonymous or pseudonymous and remains unknown, per Title 17 U.S.C. § 201.7(c)(4)(ix), “a complete registration [of this work shall] be canceled from any arranger who claims or has [falsely] claimed authorship of the original work" (e.g., Yepes).

According to Directive 2006/116/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on the Term of Protection of Copyright and Certain Related Rights, Article 1, Duration of Author’s Rights (3), “In the case of anonymous or pseudonymous works, the term of protection shall run for 70 years after the work is lawfully made available to the public” (EUR-Lex, n.d.). Copyright protection for this work expired in the European Union in 1971.

In the United States, under Title 17 of U.S.C. § 1401, copyright protection for any work published before 1972 expires 95 years from the creation of the work or 120 years since its first publication. As such, replications or derivative works of the original work are no longer considered unauthorized use of pre-1972 sound recordings. With regard to Romance Anónimo, copyright protection expired in the United States in 2021.

*** References available upon request. ***



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