Falla began this work as a set of nocturnes for solo piano in 1909 but on the suggestion of the pianist Ricardo Viñes turned the nocturnes into a piece for piano with orchestra. Falla completed it in 1915. He dedicated it to Ricardo Viñes. The first performance was given on April 9, 1916, at the Teatro Real in Madrid with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid conducted by Enrique Fernández Arbós. The piano part was played by José Cubiles.
The work depicts three gardens:
Falla referred to Nights in the Gardens of Spain as "symphonic impressions." The piano part is elaborate, brilliant, and eloquent but rarely dominant. The orchestral writing is lush. It is Falla’s most "impressionistic" score.
The score calls for piano, three flutes and piccolo, two oboes and English horn, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones and tuba, timpani, cymbals, triangle, celesta, harp, and strings. Performance time usually runs in the range of 22 to 26 minutes.