This work was given its world premiere by Ricardo Vines on April 5th, 1902 and was the first of Ravel's works to achieve real popularity. It is dedicated to the Princess Edmond de Polignac, a painter and wealthy member of the French aristocracy.
The pavane was popular in the 16th Century and during this time it became established as an introductory dance to the galliard. It was intended to express ceremonial dignity. Ravel's version is a piece of great charm and beautiful in its poignancy.