Mr Phillip Antippa: Finding Music in the Bustle

Phillip Antippa started playing the piano when he was five, the violin at eight, and the viola at around ten. Throughout this time, he also knew he wanted to pursue a medical career.


Now, he is a thoracic surgeon at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and a director of the Corpus Medicorum Orchestra. Antippa openly acknowledges the people who have shaped him throughout his journey, mentioning significant role models such as his first music teacher.

“You’re always influenced by the people you meet or surgeons who inspire you. I’m encouraged by colleagues who share my passion. They inspire me to enjoy music like I do and aspire for excellence.”


When asked who he finds most important in his life, he recites an extensive list of family members, co-workers and patients. He ends with saying, “The people that are important to me are the people I’m important to.”


Living a passionate life, he explains, means having to make sacrifices. Loving music and medicine (and the occasional skiing trip) takes a toll on just how much time you can devote to one thing without taking away from another. 


“You need to work out for yourself if you think you can do everything, or you think you can do anything. Both of those are possible but they have limitations.”


In other words, find out what is most important to you, and fight for it. He adds, “I’ll never be the musician I want to be because I never have the time to practice. If I did, I would be better at it than I am. I can do anything but it’s limited.”


Antippa professes the importance of community within his musical pursuit, and how this has been highlighted by the COVID-19 shutdown regulations. 


“Much of the pleasure that I derive out of playing music is chamber music or orchestral music, which means playing with other people. I play a lot of quartets for enjoyment over the weekends, and that I can’t do either. We depend on each other for our musical satisfaction.”


The orchestra has had to cancel one concert so far, and the future is on shaky ground. Still, there is some hope that, through it all, they will come out with a greater appreciation of everything that was almost taken for granted.


“We know that when it starts back up again we’ll enjoy [playing] in a way we never did before, because we know what it feels like to not be able to do what we want to do.”