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Tristram Ogilvie Cary (1925-2008)
Scores and papers, 1944-2005

MSS 0232

Biographical Note

Tristram Ogilvie Cary was born in Oxford on 14 may 1925, the third child of Joyce Cary, the novelist, and Gertrude Margaret Cary (nee Ogilvie).

These scores were transferred from the Music Library in 2017. Other works by Cary have been catalogued separately. He was educated at Dragon School in Oxford and Westminster School in London where he was a King’s Scholar. He was awarded a B.A. from Oxford and studied composition, piano, horn, viola and conducting at Trinity School of Music in London. His education was interrupted by service in the Royal Navy from 1943 to 1946, specialising in radar and receiveing training in electronics. In 1949, while a student, he began experimenting with music concrete on primitive disc equipment.

From 1951 to 1954 Cary was starting a family, writing music, teaching and working pat-time in a gramophone shop. From 1954 he was gradually able to support himself by score commissions, and gave up most of his teaching and his part-time job. Since then Cary has composed a large variety of concert works and scores for theatre, radio, film, TV and public exhibitions.

In 1973 Cary was appointed as Visiting Senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne, and then Visiting Composer at the University of Adelaide in 1974, progressing to Senior Lecturer and, from 1978, Reader, and served as Dean of Music in 1982. Two special London concerts were performed for his 60th birthday in 1985.

Cary founded the electronic music studio at the Royal College of Music in 1967, and also designed and built his own electronic music facility, one of the longest established private studios in the world. He brought his studio equipment to Australia, where most of it was incorporated into the teaching studio at the University of Adelaide. He was also the founder director of EMS (London) Ltd., and co-designer of the VCS3 (Putney) Synthesiser and other EMS products.

In 1986 Cary left the University of Adelaide to private employment and established Tristram Cary Creative Music Services, where he continued to work on new commissions up until his death on April 24 2008 at the age of 82.

Cary is widely regarded as the father of British electronic music. Among many other achievements Cary composed music for Doctor Who, the films The ladykillers (1955), Quatermass and the Pit (1967) and Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1970), alongside more conventional scores for Jane Eyre (1963) and Madame Bovary (1964). He also composed music for the British pavilion at Expo '67 in Montreal.

Adapted from Cary’s Biographical Notes.

Contents Listing


The following scores were transferred from the Elder Music Library Collection in 2017.

Ada: an opera with dancing in three acts.
Draft libretto (January 1966)
Computer printout, 50 p.

Three songs: new settings of old words, for the Adelaide Baroque.
Contents: Fortune my foe (Anonymous, 16th century); The three ravens (Anonymous, early 17th century); It grieves me (English 17th century, then set by John Blow)
April 2004. Computer printout, 19 p.
Donated by Donald and Doug Munro

Songs for Maid Marian, 1959/98.
Contents: For the slender beech; The bramble; Kingslea Mere; A staff, a staff; For I must seek; Ye woods that oft.
2nd printing December 1998.
Glen Osmond, S.A.: The Southern Dot Factory, 1998. 10 p.
Includes “Composer’s historical note”

[Wind quintet – flute, oboe, clarinet in B flat, horn, bassoon]
The songs inside for wind quintet.
1977. MS (photocopies?), 18 p.
5 copies inscribed to Tom Wightman, David Shephard, Jiri Tancibudek, Pat Brislan and Zdenek Bruderhans.
Also draft score, inscribed “to M.G.G. for the University of Adelaide Wind Quintet.” MS score (photocopy), 18 p.
Donated by David Shephard (clarinettist with the Adelaide Wind Quintet)

The rhyme of the flying bomb / poem by Mervyn Peake; music by Tristram Cary.
Words only.
16 p. (processed)



[Interviews with Tristram Cary]. 10 cassette tapes, 8 mini discs. Copies available on CD.
Interviews conducted by Smart, Gabriella Joy for her Thesis (M.Mus.) University of Adelaide, Elder Conservatorium of Music, 2010.

Music of Tristram Cary – Scores & recordings archive [1944-2005]
[12] p. (computer printout)

TC – personal discography (EM or Live/EM only)
Undated. [8] p., typescript and ms (photocopy)

Tristram Cary: biographical notes & list of works / Tristram Carey & Tristram Cary Creative Music Services.

3 editions: 1983 (with note from Tristram Cary); Updated to 6/88 (31 p.); Updated to 5/90 (31 p.). Typescript and MS (photocopies / computer printouts)

1 cassette tape containing "Contours and Densities at First Hills" by Tristam Cary, followed by a radio interview about the piece and "The Rhyme of the Flying Bomb" by Alan Hodgson, Barbara West and Tristam Cary (text by Merryn Peake)

Ashleigh Tobin

University Library

Barr Smith Library
South Australia 5005


Phone: +61 8 8313 5224