Joseph-François Garnier was born in 1755 in Lauris, Vaucluse, to a family of modest means. His father was a shoe-maker in the Place Jean d'Autan. His uncle was a bassoonist, who brought him to Paris to learn the oboe. In 1769 Garnier joined the orchestra of the Royal Academy of Music (which was to become the National Opera of Paris after the Revolution), playing oboe and flute. Over the course of his long carrier with this orchestra, from 1775 to 1808, Garnier earned a grand reputation also for performing at the Concert Spirituel public concert series from 1787 to 1791 as solo oboist, occasionally in performances of his own compositions. From 1792, he taught oboe at the National Guard where he became friends with the violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer, who dedicated his oboe concerto to Garnier and with whom Garnier gave the concerto's first performance. Garnier joined the National Conservatory of Music (founded by the Convention) in 1795, where he was one of five professors of oboe (along with Bernard Delcambre, Gebauer, Miolan and Sallantin. Garnier was dominant at the Conservatoire; he was "the savior of the French school of oboe during the Revolution."
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