The work was originally intended as part of the Suite bergamasque, like L'Isle joyeuse. Yet in the end Debussy chose other pieces for the Suite, and published Masques and L'Isle joyeuse separately in September and October 1904 as new compositions. Both pieces were written in summer 1904, a particularly turbulent period in Debussy's life, as he had just left his first wife Lilly for Emma Bardac. The Masques appear to be much more reserved and at the same time more mysterious than the Isle joyeuse. The Catalonian virtuoso Ricardo Viñes gave the premières of both works, which have remained extremely successful to this day.