These two pieces were composed as accompanied sight-reading tests for the Paris Conservatoire flute examinations in 1877 and 1892 respectively. It was the custom to commission a new test piece each year, often from one of the composition professors, and there are examples by Massenet, Delibes and Fauré.
Paul Taffanel was a member of the Conservatoire Examinations Board for Wind Instruments when he wrote these pieces. He was also First Flute in the orchestras of the Paris Opera and the Societé des Concerts du Conservatoire, and was renowned as a soloist. He had been a student of the Conservatoire from 1860 to 1865, studying the flute with Louis Dorus and composition with Henri Reber. In 1893 he was appointed Professor of Flute. His compositions include various other flute pieces and a wind quintet. The Allegretto Grazioso and Allegretto Scherzando are published here for the first time.