Born in Bordeaux as the son of a luthier, Gaviniès was taken to Paris by his father in 1734. At age 13, he made his debut at the Concert Spirituel in Les Tuileries playing a Jean-Marie Leclair sonata for two violins. Sometime around 1753 he received a prison sentence as the result of an affair with a Countess.
In 1762, he reached the peak of his career. Giovanni Battista Viotti described him as the French Tartini, a singular compliment. Jean Godefroy Eckhard, Leduc L’Ainé, Rodolphe Kreutzer, and Romain de Brasseure dedicated works to him. The cellist Martin Berteau named a sonata "La Gavinies".
His seminal work is the 24 Matinées published in 1794, a compilation of violin studies that includes extremely complex passages with the main goal of developing bowing facility.
- Opus 1 - 6 sonatas for violin (1760)
- Le Prétendu intermède, Italian comedy in 3 acts (première in Paris on 6 November 1760)
- Recueil d'airs à 3 parties for two violins, alto and basse continue (1763)
- Opus 3 - 6 sonatas for violin (1764)
- Opus 4 - 6 sonatas for violin (1764)
- 2 suites for Christmas (1764)
- 3 sonates for violin solo (including Le Tombeau de Gaviniès) (1770)
- Opus 5 - 6 sonates for violin (1774)
- Les Vingt-quatre matinées (1794)
- Zdenko Silvela (2001). A New History of Violin Playing: The Vibrato and Lambert Massart's Revolutionary Discovery. Universal-Publishers. p. 88,91,92. ISBN 978-1-58112-667-9..
- Bertil van Boer (5 April 2012). Historical Dictionary of Music of the Classical Period. Scarecrow Press. p. 219. ISBN 978-0-8108-7386-5..