First of six "orchestral Elegies," this work could pass entirely unnoticed by an average listener. Everything occurs in a Maeterlinckian half-light, hovering between sound and silence. The Berceuse élégiaque is intensely personal, being dedicated to the composer’s mother and written directly after her death: "Cradle song of the man at his mother’s coffin." Some commentators detect an air de famille with Liszt’s late symphonic poem entitled Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe.
Busoni’s piano version of the Berceuse was appended to his set of Elegien BV 249.