A "tombeau" is a musical composition written to commemorate an important person or event. Ludwin's work, Le Tombeau de Ravel, honors Maurice Ravel, the famous French Impressionist composer who died in 1937. The form is loosely based on Ravel's own haunting Pavane for a Dead Princess.
The piece opens with the melody played on the French horn with a pizzicato accompaniment by the strings. This melody is developed and eventually presented by the strings and the woodwinds.
The middle section features the solo woodwind players and exploits the exotic whole tone scale (C,D,E,F#,G#,A#) which differs from a normal major scale in that it contains no half steps. The use of whole tone scales was a hallmark of Ravel and his contemporary Claude Debussy.
The ending allows the whole orchestra to join forces in playing the opening melody and build to a rousing finish.