Tristram Cary

Tristram Cary

Tristram Ogilvie Cary OAM (14 May 1925 – 24 April 2008) was a pioneering British composer.

Early life

Cary was born in Oxford, England and educated at Westminster School in London. He was the son of a pianist and the novelist, Joyce Cary, author of "Mister Johnson". While working as a radar engineer for the Royal Navy during World War II, he independently developed his own conception of electronic and tape music, and is regarded as amongst the earliest pioneers of these musical forms.

Following the war he created one of the first electronic music studios, later travelling around Europe to meet the small numbers of other early pioneers of electronic music and composition.

With Peter Zinovieff and David Cockerell he founded Electronic Music Studios (London) Ltd, which created the first portable synthesiser, the EMS VCS 3, and was then involved in production of such distinctive EMS products as the EMS Synthi 100.

Musical works

His concert works of note include a "Sonata" for guitar (1959), "Continuum" for tape (1969), a cantata "Peccata Mundi" (1972), "Contours and Densities at First Hill" for orchestra (1972), a "Nonet" (1979), "String Quartet No. 2" (1985) and "The Dancing Girls" for orchestra (1991).

Cary is also particularly well known for his film and television music. He has written music for the science fiction television series "Doctor Who" (including the first Dalek story [Chris Thomas, "Music-maker for the Daleks", p.41, The West Australian", 12 May 2008.] ), as well as the score for the Ealing comedy "The Ladykillers" (1955). Later film scores included "Quatermass and the Pit" (1967) and "Blood from the Mummy's Tomb" (1971), both for Hammer.

Cary was one of the first British composers to work in musique concrète. In 1967 he created the first electronic music studio of the Royal College of Music. He built another at his home in Suffolk, which he transported to Australia when he emigrated there, and incorporated it into the University of Adelaide where he worked as a lecturer until 1986. [ Tristram Cary] , "The Daily Telegraph", 28 April 2008.]

He provided the visual design for the EMS VCS3 synthesizer, the first portable synthesizer, though not the first to be attached to a keyboard, designed by Bob Moog a year later in 1970.


Cary died in Adelaide, South Australia on 24 April 2008, aged 82 [ [ Tristram Cary is no longer] ] .


Cary was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1991 in recognition of service to music. [ [ CARY, Tristram Ogilvie] , "It's an Honour" (Australian Government), 10 June 1991.] He also received the 2005 [ lifetime achievement award] from the Adelaide Critics' Circle for his contribution to music in England and Australia.

List of works


*"Peccata Mundi" for Chorus, Orchestra, Speaking voice, Four tracks of tape (1972/76),
*"Contours & Densities at First Hill" - Fifteen Landscapes for Orchestra (1976)
*"The Dancing Girls" Four Mobiles for Orchestra (1991)
*"Sevens" Concertino for Yamaha Disklavier and Strings (1991)
*"Inside Stories" for chamber orchestra and prerecorded CD (1993)
*"The Ladykillers" Suite for Orchestra (1955/96)


*"Sonata for Guitar Alone" (1959)
*"Three Threes and One Make Ten" Mixed decet (1961)
*"Narcissus" for Flute and two tape recorders (1968)
*"Romantic Interiors" for violin, cello and tape (1973)
*"Family Conference" for four clarinets (1981)
*"Seeds" Mixed Quintet (1982)
*"String Quartet No.2" (1985)
*"Rivers" Four percussionists and two tape recorders (1986)
*"Black, White & Rose" Marimba and tape (1991)
*"Strange Places" Piano solo (1992)
*"Messages" Cello solo (1993)
*"Through Glass" Piano and electronics (1998)


*"Divertimento" (1973) - for Olivetti machines, 16 singers and jazz drummer (1973) (10') Commissioned by Olivetti for the opening of a new training centre at Haslemere, England (designed by the world-famous architect James Stirling) as (a) part of a 'Venetian' concert conducted by Cary himself, and (b) the sound track of a film. Described by Cary as "friendly, undemanding music" which nevertheless he was nervous about performing, since the audience was composed of VIPs and included Yehudi Menuhin. The text of the piece consists of cardinal numbers in four languages. The performance: Premiered 21/6/1973 at Haslemere HQ of Olivetti, though the film version had already been previously recorded. Performed again in Adelaide 1974. Cary also extracted a piece from it without vocals - "Tracks from Divertimento" - in 1978. It is published on a disc - "Full Spectrum" (MOVE Records MS3027). The original Haslemere personnel were the Ambrosian Singers and Chris Karan (drums).
*"Two Nativity Songs from the Piae Cantiones" (arr.) (1979)
*"I Am Here" Soprano and Tape (1980)
*"Earth Hold Songs" Soprano and Piano (1993)
*"Songs for Maid Marian" Soprano, Piano (1959/98)


For analogue tape

*Suite - the Japanese Fishermen (1955)
*4 5 - A Study in Limited Resources (1967)
*Birth is Life is Power is Death is God is....(1967)
*Continuum (1969)
*Suite - Leviathan '99 (1972)
*Steam Music (1978)

For computer

*Nonet (1979)
*Soft Walls (1980)
*Trellises (1984)
*The Impossible Piano (1994)


*"The Ladykillers", Ealing Studios (1955)
*"Time Without Pity", Harlequin (1956)
*"The Little Island Animated", Richard Williams (1958) (best experimental film, Venice 1958; best experimental film, British Film Academy 1959)
*"Sammy Going South", Michael Balcon (1963) (Royal Command Film Performance 1963)
*EXPO 67 Montréal - All film soundtracks for Industrial Section, British Pavilion (1967)
*"A la Mesure de l'Homme", Canadian Government (1967)
*"Quatermass and The Pit", Hammer Films (1967)
*"A Christmas Carol", ABC Films (1972) Academy Award
*"The Fourth Wish", SA Film Corporation (1976)
*"Katya and the Nutcracker": special arrangement of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet for a 30' children's animated film (John Cary Films / Minotaur International)


*"The Children of Lir" (Craig) (1959)
*"La Machine Infernale" (Cocteau) (1960)
*"The End of Fear" (Saurat) (1960)
*"King Lear" (Shakespeare) (1960)
*"The Flight of the Wild Geese" (Dillon) (1961)
*"The Ballad of Peckham Rye" (Spark) (1962) Italia Prize
*"The Ha-Ha" (Dawson) (1963)
*"The Rhyme of the Flying Bomb" (Peake) (1964)


*"Jane Eyre" (Brontë) (1963)
*"The Daleks" (7-part "Dr Who" serial) (1963)
*"Madame Bovary" (Flaubert) (1964)
*"Marco Polo" ("Dr Who serial") (1964)
*"Mill on the Floss" (Eliot) (1964)
*"The Rescue" (2-part "Dr Who" serial) (1965) (stock from "The Daleks")
*"The Head Waiter" (Mortimer) (1966)
*"The Daleks' Master Plan" (12 part "Dr Who" serial) (1966)
*"The Ark" (4-part "Dr Who" serial) (1966) (stock from "The Daleks")
*"The Gunfighters" (4-part "Dr Who" serial) (1966)
*"The Power of the Daleks" (6-part "Dr Who" serial) (1966) (stock from "The Daleks" and "The Daleks' Master Plan")
*"The Paradise Makers" (Winch) (1967)
*"The Million Pound Banknote" (Twain) (1968)
*"Sinister Street" (Mackenzie) (1969)
*"The Mutants" (Dr Who serial) (1972)

Theatre and Miscellaneous

*"Macbeth" Old Vic Theatre (1960)
*"Henry IV, Pt.I" Old Vic Theatre (1961)
*"La Contessa" (Druon, dir: Helpmann) (1965)
*"Die Ballade von Peckham Rye" Salzburg Festival (1965)
*"Escalator Music and Centre Music" EXPO 67, Montreal
*"Hamlet" Theatre Roundabout, (1968)
*"Music for Light" Olympia London (1968)
*"H" (Wood)" National Theatre (1969)
*"Echoes till Sunset" - 3 hour open air entertainment, Adelaide Festival (1984)


*"Dictionary of Musical Technology" (1992) (also known as the "Illustrated Compendium of Musical Technology")


Published references

*"The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians" Macmillan 1980
*"The Grove Concise Dictionary of Music" Macmillan 1988
*"The New Oxford Companion to Music" Oxford University Press 1983
*"The Oxford Companion to Australian Music" Oxford University Press 1997
*"Dictionary of 20th Century Music" Thames & Hudson 1974
*"Halliwell's Who's Who in the Movies" Harper Collins (freq. reprinted)

External links

* [ Interview with Tristram Cary]
*Imdb name|id=0142639|name=Tristram Cary
*AMG name|id=2beyxd0b2ola|name=Tristram Cary
* [ Tristram Cary (Personal website)]
* [ Australian Music Centre]
* [ Australasian Performing Right Association]
* [ Story about Tristram Cary in the University of Adelaide's Lumen magazine]
* [ Telegraph article]
* [ University of Adelaide obituary]

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