Anthony Briggs (1960–2022): A Life Filled with Music

Anthony Briggs, a beloved musician, composer, conductor, and teacher, graced the world with his remarkable talents and left an indelible mark on the hearts of those who knew him. He passed away on January 14, 2022, at the age of 62, leaving behind a legacy of musical brilliance that touched the lives of many. From a young age, Anthony’s journey into the world of music began. As a boy, he found his voice in the choir at St. Patrick’s in Melbourne, where he discovered his deep passion for singing in resonant spaces. It was here that he first learned to love the interplay of music and architecture, a love that would shape his artistic endeavours throughout his life. Teaching himself to play the piano, he honed his ability to trust his ear and bring to life the melodies that danced within his mind.

Settling in the St. Arnaud region of Victoria, Anthony established himself as a prominent composer and educator. His commitment to the art of choral singing and his unwavering connection to the Star of the Sea Church became cornerstones of his identity. His music resonated within the hearts of those who heard it, breathing life into the melodies that captured the essence of the human experience. One of Anthony’s most profound moments came in 2011 when he was commissioned to compose a piece for the 70th anniversary of the entombment of the Unknown Australian Soldier. The resulting composition, “We Are Here,” reflected his deep understanding of the solemn occasion and his respect for the words “He is all of them and he is one of us” which Paul Keating delivered in his legendary eulogy in 1993. This piece marked a historic moment in his career and solidified his place as a composer of immense emotional depth. The Oriana Chorale, a distinguished choir from Canberra, brought Anthony’s composition to life, providing a fitting tribute to the unknown hero. In the words of Anthony himself, “If I’m the first person to introduce some music on his behalf and in memory of all people who have died, then that’s like juggling many things, and I don’t know what it’s going to be like, but as a composer I think I’ve put it to bed. I have done the deed and I’ve done my duty.”

Anthony’s compositions were a testament to his profound understanding of the power of music to convey emotions and stories that words alone could not capture. His commitment to respecting the significance of historical events while infusing them with his artistic expression was a hallmark of his work. As we remember Anthony Briggs, we celebrate a life well-lived—a life that touched souls through music. He may not have been famous in the traditional sense, but he was undoubtedly fortunate to have shared his gift with the world.