Ravel described the piece as « an evocation of a pavane that a little princess might, in pavane pour une Europe défunte PDF times, have danced at the Spanish court ». The pavane was a slow processional dance that enjoyed great popularity in the courts of Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Ravel dedicated the Pavane to his patron, the Princesse de Polignac, and he probably performed the work at the princess’s home on at least several occasions. It was first published by E. The critic Émile Vuillermoz complained that Ravel’s playing of the work was « unutterably slow. The first gramophone recording of the Pavane was made in 1921 in Paris.
A later recording, made in Paris in 1932 is sometimes thought to have been conducted by the composer, but was actually conducted by Pedro de Freitas-Branco, under the supervision of Ravel, who was present at rehearsal and the recording session. Ravel himself made a piano roll recording of the piece in 1922. His performance is approximately five minutes and forty seconds in length. In addition to numerous recorded performances within the classical repertoire, the Pavane maintains a significant presence in popular music.