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First Name: Fernand
Last Name: Gillet
Bio: Autobiography written in 1973 by Fernand Gillet (1882-1980). I was born in Paris (October 15, 1882), my parents were French and when I was six years old they took me with them to live in London where I stayed six years. After having been in a boy's school for about 4 years I studied the piano for 18 months. Then my parents took me back to Paris with the idea that I could become a pianist. Once there, my father asked his brother (my Uncle) Georges Gillet to introduce me to the best piano teacher in Paris. My uncle answered right away: Why don"t you give him to me! And that is how I became an oboe player! After 18 months of study with my uncle I joined his class at the Conservatory (like everybody else) and at the end of the scholar year I got a second prize at the competition. I was then 14 years old! The next year at 15 I got the first prize and was asked by the Director to play at the commencement. This was in 1898 and the next year I got a first medal of solfege. In 1901 there was a vacancy in the oboe section of the Lamoreux orchestra, I competed and was taken as first oboe. In 1902 there was another opening at the Paris Grand Opera I competed again but against 9 other first prizes of the Conservatory, and won. I never made any personal records - I hated it, but I often concertized as soloist. In 1908 I founded a chamber music group which we named "Le Decem" because we were ten: string quintet and wind quintet. All of this without interfering with my obligations with the Opera and Lamoreux Orchestras. Then came the 1914 war. When I was 20 I had been dispensed of military service so I enlisted in August 1914 as Motorcyclist and became attached to the "Royal Naval Air Service" (as I spoke English). In 1916 I asked to be a flyer. Out of flying school I was sent to a night bombardment squadron. After awhile with the Lamoreux Orchestra at the same time 24 years at the Paris Opera. Then in Boston 21 years with the B.S.O. during that time I was on the Faculty of the New England Conservatory where in 1969 I was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music. I was also on the Boston University Faculty. After I retired from the Boston Symphony in 1946 I taught for seven years, twice a month a Master Class at the Montreal Conservatory. In 1973 I was awarded an Honorary Doctor's Degree from the Eastman School of Music. So far I have been teaching 74 years. I like teaching. I am still teaching at the N.E.C. and at home.
Source: Journal of the IDRS 26 (1998)