In the summer of 1909 the journalist Jules Ecorcheville asked a number of leading French composers each to write a short piano piece in honour of Haydn, who died on 31 May 1809. The form was left up to them, but they were asked to make use of a five-note motto theme (B–A–D–D–G) representing the name Haydn. This was just the sort of game Ravel enjoyed playing and on 12 September 1909 he wrote to Ecorcheville, ‘Le menuet est confectionné’—the term used by tailors cutting a suit. The motto theme duly appears as above, then backwards and upside down, before two final recto appearances in the treble and, in the concluding bars, in the bass.
from notes by Roger Nichols © 2011