Johann Christian Fischer

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Portrait, by Thomas Gainsborough, Fischer's father-in-law, 1780, the year he married Mary Gainsborough[1] (Royal Collection)

Johann Christian Fischer (c. 1733 – 29 April 1800) was a German composer and oboist, one of the best-known oboe soloists in Europe during the 1770s.[2]

Employed as a music copyist and theatre director for the Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin at Ludwigslust, Fischer is now credited with the unique Symphony with Eight Obbligato Timpani, formerly attributed to Johann Wilhelm Hertel, court composer at Schwerin.[3] He spent some time in Dresden, but left after the Prussian occupation in the Seven Years' War for extensive concertizing tours,[4] ending in London, where he was active as a performer, composer, and a teacher, and introduced the Continental narrow-bore model of oboe that replaced the bright and penetrating straight-topped English type.[5] In London Fischer joined the largely German "Queen's Band" of George III's German Queen, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.[6] Fischer published several teaching manuals for the oboe, with varying titles: The Compleat Tutor for the Hautboy (ca 1770), New and Complete Instructions for the Oboe or Hoboy (ca 1780)[7] and The Hoboy Preceptor (1800). Among his students was composer and oboist Charles J. Suck.

An etching/aquatint A Sunday concert by Charles Loraine Smith, published 4 June 1782,[8] shows a distinguished musical group gathered round a harpsichord, with Fischer and Charles Burney among them.

Mozart composed a set of Twelve Variations in C on a Menuett of Johann Christian Fischer (K.179 [189a]).


  1. ^ Geoffrey Burgess (oboist) and Bruce Haynes, The Oboe, 2004:87
  2. ^ "The two best-known hautboy soloists in Europe in the 1770s were probably Johann Christian Fischer (1733-1800) and Carlo Besozzi (1738-p.1798)" (Burgess and Haynes 2004:87).
  3. ^ Composers
  4. ^ He met the nine-year-old Mozart at The Hague in 1765 and again in Vienna in 1787, when Mozart was less impressed (Letter, 4 April 1787)..
  5. ^ Anthony Baines, Woodwind Instruments and Their History, 1967:281.
  6. ^ F. Anne M.R. Jarvis, "German musicians in London, c.1750 - c.1850" in Stefan Manz, Margrit Schulte Beerbühl, John R. Davis eds., Migration and Transfer from Germany to Britain, 1660-1914 2007:44 and note 38.
  7. ^ Bruce Haynes, The Eloquent Oboe: A History of the Hautboy 1640-1760, 2001:5.
  8. ^ National Portrait Gallery, London