Although Ravel said in his Esquisse autobiographique that he wrote the Sonatine after Miroirs, it seems to have been written before it, between 1903 and 1905; in a letter of August 1905, after his canal cruise on the Aimée with Misia and Alfred Edwards, he wrote: "Je n'ai passé que quelques jours à Paris, durant quoi j'ai terminé la Sonatine..." (Orenstein [1989], letter 24). It was first performed in its entirety in Lyons on 10.iii.1906 by Mme Paule de Lestang, and then in Paris on 31.iii.1906 by Gabriel Grovlez.

The work was dedicated to his friends Ida and Cipa Godebski.

The diminutive of the title refers perhaps to its classical models and to its modest length, rather than to any simplicity of structure or ease of execution. After the Lyons première, Ravel wrote: "Je suis très heureux que ma Sonatine ait plu au public de la Revue musicale, mais d'autre part un peu effrayé de ses objections, quant à la difficulté." (Orenstein [1989], letter 31, to Léon Vallas , music critic in Lyon). Despite any difficulties, Ravel made a recording of the first and second movements on piano roll in 1913, and it was one of the works that he played on his tour of the United States in 1928.

"Although well-written and attractive, the Sonatine does not match the composer's next achievement for the keyboard, the Miroirs." ( Orenstein [1991], p.158-159).

"Dès la première mesure, l'œuvre captive par son aisance et sa profondeur..." (Marnat [1986] p.177). "Dans sa concision, son naturel, sa rayonnante présence, la Sonatine est devenue l'une des œuvres-symbole de Ravel...". (ibid. p.179).

A copy of the 1905 Durand edition of the score can be downloaded, within permitted jurisdictions, from the IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library. A new critical edition of the score by Roger Nichols was published in 1995: Maurice Ravel, Sonatine for solo piano: Urtext edition. London: Edition Peters, c.1995. 21 pages.