Ravel published his Valses Nobles et Sentimentales for solo piano in 1911 and for orchestra in 1912. The work consists of a suite of 8 valses.

Ravel greatly admired Schubert’s collection of Valses Nobles and Valses Sentimentales, inspiring him to write his own version of valses. Unlike Schuberts however, Ravel does not specify which valses are “nobles” and which are “sentimentales”.

The work was dedicated to, and given its first performance by Louis Aubert on 8th May 1911. The work was performed alongside works by other composers whose identity was kept hidden from the audience. Instead the audience were asked to guess which composer a certain work was attributed to. In the case of Ravel’s Valses Nobles et Sentimentales a minute minority of the audience guessed correctly, with the majority guessing incorrectly. The work was not greeted with universal praise by the audience, rather with a chorus of boos and howls of protest.
The 8 valses are marked as follows:

  1. Modéré – très franc
  2. Assez lent – avec une expression intense
  3. Modéré
  4. Assez animé
  5. Presque lent – dans un sentiment intime
  6. Vif
  7. Moins vif
  8. Epilogue – Lent