Debussy wrote these two short dances to a commission from the instrument-making firm of Pleyel, which was keen to use famous names in the marketing of its newly-developed chromatic harp. The dances are also playable without problem on the pedal harp, which was to replace the chromatic harp on the concert platform. The archaic style of the pieces, including modal harmonies, used to express a “sacred” rite and a “profane” dance of joy, points to the enthusiasm for antiquity of Debussy himself and of the artistic world around 1900.
Ours is the first critical edition of the pieces, and is based on careful checking of the autograph and first edition.