The concerto was deeply infused with jazz idioms and harmonies, which, at the time, were highly popular in Paris as well as the United States, where Ravel was traveling on a piano tour. After his well-received tour, Ravel wanted to give the first public performance of this new work himself. However, health issues precluded this possibility, with his preparatory practice of Liszt's and Chopin's etudes leading to fatigue. He then planned a premiere for March 9, 1931, in Amsterdam, but these plans also were cancelled due to his work on the Concerto for the Left Hand, his many public appearances, and his performances of his other works.
Eventually, Ravel offered the premiere and dedicated the concerto to Marguerite Long, who was known for her performances of the works of Fauré and Debussy and had earlier asked Ravel for a new work. She received the score on November 11, 1931, and played the concerto on January 14, 1932, with Ravel conducting the Orchestre Lamoureux. A few days after this highly successful premiere, Ravel and Long started a tour of twenty cities in Europe, where the work was received with consistent enthusiasm.
The first North American performances were given simultaneously on April 22, 1932, by both the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra at their home concert halls.