He was the first of four leading composers to write music inspired by Maeterlinck's drama. Debussy, Schoenberg and Sibelius followed in the first decade of the 20th century.
Fauré's music was written for the London production of Maeterlinck's play in 1898. To meet the tight deadline of the production, Fauré reused some earlier music from incomplete works and enlisted the help of his pupil Charles Koechlin, who orchestrated the music. Fauré later constructed this four-movement suite from the original theatre music, orchestrating the concert version himself.