Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My old friend...

I was told yesterday that an old friend and musical partner of mine from university days, Phanos Dymiotis, died in March in a car crash.

Phanos, a Greek Cypriot, was one of the brightest guys in the Cambridge music department when I got to know him. I remember him as a witty, warm, unassuming, self-contained and slightly enigmantic character; he was both an excellent composer and a brilliant violinist - the sort that's so brilliant that he could play the socks off the Saint-Saens Havanaise in a concert, but again with knobs on at the end of the post-concert party. He got a 'double first' (anyone who's survived the Cambridge music tripos will know that that takes a lot of doing), then headed for postgraduate studies at Princeton; last time I heard of him, several years ago, he was freelancing as a violinist in New York. I haven't heard any of his music for many years, but he had won a number of prizes and it sounds as if he was finally gaining the recognition I am certain he deserved.

We played the Faure A major Violin Sonata together once (a lunchtime concert at Emmanuel College), and enjoyed many of those priceless student moments with our many mutual friends - the Guy Fawkes Day fireworks and fun-fair on Midsummer Common, the Darwin College May Ball where we danced together to a Glenn Miller band at dawn, and late-night winter wanders across town from concerts/celebrations along the frosty grass on the Backs. Sadly, we lost touch after university, as too often one does, and despite many good intentions of correcting that, I never got round to it...

Phanos, a fond farewell from London. We'll never forget you.

UPDATE: Drew McManus covered this, I now discover, back when it happened in March. There is also a very moving tribute to Phanos by another friend, here. Here is the site of the Mariner String Quartet, of which he was a member. And more information at this Baltimore news site.

Phanos was the victim of a drunk driver, whose car hit his in a head-on collision and who also died at the scene along with his 19-year-old passenger. I also found a clip of a news item on Youtube. Nothing I say about tragedy, drink, irresponsibility, government bans or anything else is going to make any difference, so I shall shut up and go and cry instead.