Johann Christian Fischer was one of the most important virtuoso oboists of the Classical era and a composer of some of the best-known music for that instrument of that era. He is not related to Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (1670 - 1746), an earlier German composer of Bohemian ancestry.
He learned the oboe from Alessandro Besozzi in Turin and joined the Dresden Court orchestra. At the end of the Seven Years War (1763), he entered the service of Prussian King Frederick the Great in Potsdam. By 1764, he was traveling again. He met the Mozart family in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1765, and then had successful appearances in Mannheim, Paris, and London. One of the major concert series in London was jointly run by J.C. Bach and J.C. Abel. Both composers wrote works for Fischer to play. Conversely, Bach made keyboard arrangements of some of Fischer's oboe concertos.
Fischer became friends with the portrait painter Thomas Gainsborough. They enjoyed playing oboe and viola da gamba duets with each other and Gainsborough painted one portrait of Fischer. But when Fischer wanted to marry the painter's daughter, Gainsborough opposed the union. Fischer and Mary Gainsborough were married in 1780, but the union did not last long before they were separated.
When Fischer failed to win some available musical positions, he left England to resume touring in Germany. His path crossed with Wolfgang Mozart's again in Vienna in 1787. Now the great composer's opinion was unfavorable. Fischer returned to London in 1790 and continued his playing career until his death in 1800 of a stroke while performing before the King and Queen. Fischer's music is almost all for oboe or flute, including ten concertos. The music is pleasantly rococo. While it is not deep or important music, it usually possesses inventive and unexpected turns of melody and other expressive details.