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17 June 2008

Tristram Cary remembered 3

Eulogy by Jeffrey Harris

Tristram Cary Image: Tristram Cary  
© Anni Heino

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 Jeffrey Harris

See also:
Tristram Cary - eulogy by Gabriella Smart
Tristram Cary - obituary by Charles Bodman Rae
Tristram Cary - essay by Becky Llewellyn

Tristram was a dear friend of our family for over thirty years. Gwen and I met him in the early 1970s at a party at the home of John and Jenny Morley at Hazelwood Park. It was one of those meetings where one knew on sight that we would be friends. And indeed during those early years when he first came to Adelaide to set up the electronic studio in the Elder Conservatorium, we became very close friends indeed, sharing ideas, his of course in music and mine in painting and drawing. The music of sound and space, and colour and shape: evocations, feelings, images. . .

On a Saturday we would often meet in his room at the Con, and he'd play music he'd been working on and invite me to have a go on the synthesiser. Later in the afternoon we'd play eight ball in one of the pubs on Hutt Street, and then usually go back to our place for the evening's food and wine and conversation. We had some wonderful times together through the seventies and eighties, Tris, his first wife Dorse and my wife Gwen and our four children – good times which continued with his second wife Jane.

Tristram was forever constructing laterally – he spent a lot of time in his shed. I remember a long weekend spent assembling two spindle back chairs from a flat pack. One successful. The cantilevered range hood over his cooker, and, most memorably, when he wanted an inside loo. How to do it? The original was out the back door and to the right. The solution? Break a hole through the kitchen wall and put in a door to the loo. Brick up the outside door. Problem, regulations stated there must be two doors between the WC and the kitchen. Solution? Build a wooden sentry box in front of the new door in the kitchen. For a door in the sentry box, have a beaded curtain. Simple! Entry to the casbah! So funny and so ingenious!

What can I tell you about my dear friend? What endears him to us? Firstly, he was totally honest. He believed in honesty in one's dealings with others. I remember him saying in conversation, 'It's just more fun than anything else'. He was totally honest about himself and life, the way he lived and related to others. He shared his ideas, his feelings, his plans, his memories and also, it should be said, his psychological condition at any one time. If he was depressed or angry about something, you certainly knew about it; if he was happy and joyous and silly as a schoolboy on holidays, you shared that also.

He had a terrific mind and power of recall. Never one for the easy solution, he would rise early to work every day, even if the previous night had been a late one. Egocentric? Yes. Could be difficult, preoccupied, yes. But with all his complexities, he lived life to the full and always had time for others.

Along with these qualities, he had another special one, which I've met before in remarkable friends: along with his sophistication and brilliance of mind, a kind of innocence and a freshness of vision, as though each day was the first and another chance for another raid on the inarticulate through the medium of music, composition, dots on paper.

He was blessed with a natural goodness; a grace and a generosity of spirit. What did he love? Life, people, being with friends, family, women, food, wine, single malts, coffee, never tea, travel, books, film, opera, orchestras, art and his music. He loved the discipline of composing and built his daily routine around that. When illness struck – extraordinary courage – he hated being unwell.

Here are a few lines of Walt Whitman from Leaves of Grass, as much for us as for Tristram.

All goes onward and outward—nothing collapses;
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?
I hasten to inform him or her, it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.

I pass death with the dying, and birth with the new-wash’d babe, and am not contain’d between my hat and boots;
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike, and every one good;
The earth good, and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.

I am not an earth, nor an adjunct of an earth;
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself;
(They do not know how immortal, but I know.)

Tristram, dear friend you were loved by so many of us, we shall miss you, and yet something will remain with us in our love, our memories of you whilst we are alive, and in the gift of your music and love.

Jeffrey Harris, artist
Eulogy delivered at Tristram Cary's memorial service in Adelaide 11th May

Further Links

Subjects discussed by this article:

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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