more About Jeff Briggs
Jeff Briggs became fascinated with music composition after hearing the music of Bela Bartok and Igor Stravinsky at age 14, while convalescing from a football injury. In 1975, he entered the Eastman School of Music on scholarship, where he studied Music Composition and Theory with Samuel Adler, Joseph Schwantner, and Warren Benson. He pursued graduate study with Donald Freund at Memphis University (1979-1980) and completed a Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Illinois, working with composers Ben Johnston, David Liptak, and John Melby.
After completing his formal education, Jeff worked full time as a freelance composer and arranger in New York City, receiving performances of acoustic works at a wide range of venues, including Lincoln Center, Dance Theater Workshop, and Columbia University. But, in 1984 Jeff began com-posing for digital orchestra on a 256 K Mac. This early interest in new media led to a residency at MacDowell Colony that culminated in an interdisciplinary collaboration with a visual artist, a ‘tape’ performance at the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris, his first without live musicians.
Jeff next took his creative vision to an emerging platform provided by computer games, an environment that nurtured integration of image and sound in ways not possible with live performance. Jeff became a game designer and composer, developing several hit games. An early collaboration with Sid Meier, another award-winning computer game designer, culminated in CPU Bach -- an application for home gaming consoles that creates JS Bach-like compositions, on demand, without duplication, ever! He and Sid were awarded a US Patent for the system. About CPU Bach, Civ-Fanatics.com said, “It's like having the ghost of Bach in your living room, cranking out music he was unable to finish in his lifetime.”
In 1996, Jeff advanced a new idea for studio-based creative collaboration that he called Firaxis Games (by using the words ‘fire’ and ‘axis’, connoting the ‘fiery axis of creativity’, and borrowed from one of his early musical works, Firaxis). Jeff continued to compose for acoustic instruments in collaboration with local artists, and served as an adjunct college instructor while growing Firaxis Games into a world-class software giant, and receiving over 100 personal, product, and corporate awards, including Ernst and Young’s Technology Entrepreneur of the Year.
Jeff’s music in Civilization IV, released in a limited run of 50,000 CD’s, features a large variety of tracks both original and historical, from Gregorian chant to modern minimalism, with more than 300 distinct musical works. During 20 years in the multi-media arena, Jeff composed 30+ original game soundtracks that have been heard by 10s of millions worldwide.
Jeff sold Firaxis Games in 2005, to revisit his life as a non-commercial artist. Since recommitting himself to the studio, Jeff has composed prolifically – three works for orchestra, four stringquartets, several choral works, with many other works in progress.
In May 2009, Celebration for Orchestra had its world premiere with The Westfield Symphony, led by David Wroe. In October, The Watcom Symphony premiered Washington’s Artillery, a segment from a suite for orchestra based on traditional American tunes. Two Poems of Hyam Plutzik, Jeff’s new major work for orchestra and narrator (based on poems of American poet, Hyam Plutzik), will be premiered at the New World Symphony Center on July 23, 2016 at the Miami Music Festival, conducted by Michael Rossi and narrated by Alberto Carvalho, Superintendent of the Miami Dade County Public Schools.
Jeff has just completed a major project to arrange Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas for String Quartet; the project will be rolled out by the faculty ensemble in residence at Florida International University, the Amernet Quartet (amernetquartet.com), in 12 concerts over 3 years.
Photo by Robert Zuckerman, 2016