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17 June 2008

Tristram Cary remembered 2

Eulogy by pianist Gabriella Smart

Tristram Cary Image: Tristram Cary  

Tristram Cary's (1925-2008) life and legacy have been celebrated in eulogies and obituaries around the world. resonate has the privilege to publish the following eulogies by Tristram's friends and colleagues. Our thanks go to Gabriella Smart for helping us to access this material, and to Tristram's wife Jane and family for the kind permission to publish these texts. Becky Llewellyn's personal perspective, while not a eulogy delivered at the memorial service, was written on the same day, 11th May 2008.

Tristram Cary - eulogy by Gabriella Smart

See also:
Tristram Cary - eulogy by Jeffrey Harris
Tristram Cary - obituary by Charles Bodman Rae
Tristram Cary - essay by Becky Llewellyn

My friendship with Tristram was founded in storytelling. He was a great storyteller: there was history, musical and literary heritage and of course a great passion for all that he did – he had a gleam in his eye, and it was very infectious. Tristram’s life and personality was reflected in his music. And his music was like his life – overflowing with abundance, the sort that gives normal people indigestion. But not Tristram. He was a person of extraordinary knowledge and culture, who through his music was able to bite deeply into life’s fabric to reflect the truth that lay beneath.

He was also a man who was generous and had a great sense of humour, and this could be heard in his music. At times I felt that there was some inner joke or sense of fun just below the surface. But at other times his sense of verity was palpable, and this was what inspired me, both as a performer of his music and as a musician who commissioned work from him. His emotional and intellectual range was vast. Being a perfectionist – an uncompromising perfectionist – he possessed a succinct perspective in his music and had a great sense of its architectural structure.

Tristram had clarity of vision, and was very demanding in the interpretation of his music. I sometimes sensed that, if it wasn’t for his very English reserve, he would have liked to push me off the piano stool and tell me, 'No, play it like this!' But he was far too much of a gentleman. Likewise, when he was happy, he’d swagger up, with his wry grin and that gleam in his eye and say, ‘Not bad Gabriella.’ He would never over-state, but you always knew where you were with him because he possessed innate integrity.

Tristram once said to me that composing music was all about timing. The simplicity of this comment belies the vast store of experience that he brought to his worktable. His consummate understanding of, and respect for, the communication of the dramatic element in music is what makes the performance of his work so timeless and satisfying. I always appreciated Tristram’s generosity and help over the years, and I was able to give something back recently when two of his works, I am Here for soprano and tape, and Messages for solo cello, were performed in the 2008 Adelaide Contemporary Music Festival by Greta Bradman and John Addison respectively. I described the performances to him in hospital and, even in ill health, that gleam in his eye filled the room.

It is no coincidence that I Am Here has been performed by two extraordinary women since its creation: Jane Manning and Greta Bradman. Tristram’s love of life and people, and of women in particular, ensured his ability to write such a sophisticated work where the complexity of human nature is revealed so succinctly. Speaking of extraordinary women, it was his wife Jane’s love that strengthened Tristram’s resilience during the last few years.

I am sure that his music and personality enriched everyone near him with a deeper understanding of human nature itself. I can truly say that my life as a musician, as a performer and as a person has been enriched by knowing Tristram Cary. The sadness I feel is not only at the loss of a friend whom I respected deeply, but at the passing of an epoch.

Gabriella Smart, pianist
Eulogy delivered at Tristram Cary's memorial service in Adelaide 11th May

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As a national service organisation, the Australian Music Centre is dedicated to increasing the profile and sustainability of Australian composers and other creative artists. The AMC facilitates the performance, awareness and appreciation of music by these artists through: composer and other creative artist representation and assistance; resonate – its online magazine; library and retail services; sheet music publishing; and the management, administration and publication of project-based initiatives. Its library collection holds over 30,000 items by more than 500 artists.


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