Gaspard de la Nuit is a series of piano pieces based on the poem of the same name by Aloysius Bertrand. It is one of the, if not the most difficult piece for piano, because of the technical demands it makes. Ravel did this on purpose: he wanted the piece to be extremely demanding.
A first version of the collection of poems was published in 1842, a year after the writer’s death by tuberculosis. The book is a frame story about someone that one night in the park meets a man that calls himself Gaspard. After the conversation, Gaspard hands him a book, titled of course, Gaspard de la Nuit. When the man wants to return the book the next day, Gaspard is nowhere to be found.
The stories deal with dark romantic subjects. There are a lot of them in the book, but Ravel chose three. In 1925 a definitive edition of the book is published, based on the manuscript from 1836, and writings found in the authors possession. Two of the poems Ravel chose were not published yet in 1909, when the work premiered.