This brief piano piece, lasting about 1˝ minutes, was written in 1913 as a sight-reading exercise ("cette pièce intentionellement semée de traquenards", Chalupt [1956] p.101) for a women's competition at the Conservatoire.

On its publication, Prélude was dedicated to the winner of the contest, Jeanne Leleu, the young pianist who had given the first performance of Ma mère l'oye three years earlier. In a letter to her in August 1913, Ravel said: "C'est bien peu de chose: le souvenir d'un artiste que vos qualités musicales ont sincérement touché." (Chalupt, [1956], p.101).