This first print is a rarity: the highly virtuoso, evocative 'Nocturne' owes its creation to an instrument that has only survived as a museum piece.
Gustave Lyon, the director of the French instrument maker Pleyel, commissioned Charles Koechlin as well as several other French composers (such as Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel) to write works for the 'harpe chromatique' developed by him around 1900. In contrast to the common pedal harp, the chromatic harp allows for an unlimited modulatory range. Nevertheless, the instrument did not gain much acceptance and remained exotic.
Koechlin was aware of the difficulty of introducing and establishing new instruments. He therefore, from the very beginning, had the piano as an alternative of equal value in mind when writing his Nocturne.