In Memoriam Frank Hamilton (13 June 1953- Dalton Georgia, 7 December 2011)

(photo courtesy René Seghers)


Any fan of Franco Corelli, Maria Callas, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Gabriella Tucci, Tito Gobbi and the Philadelphia Opera History will mourn over the loss of Frank Hamilton, who passed away in his sleep in the morning of Wednesday 7 December, 2011.

Frank was a close friend of me as off the day that my Corelli biography was published, which led to a joint collaboration on the Darclée and Corelli chronologies. Just how generous Frank was shows from the fact that he immediately agreed to put my Darclée files in his pdf formats – something which had to be done manually. Meaning weeks of work. Of course... it took a little bit longer. About a year and a half to be precise, since Frank soon started looking for missing names, dates and so on. And as we also worked toward a more complete Corelli chronology, there were months where I saw more of Frank online than of my neighbors in real life.

Frank, however, was much more than a chronologist alone. he was a generous, honest, passionate human being who was an avid collector of pottery made by the famous north Georgia potter named Charles Counts. An Asheville, North Carolina exhibition of Count's pottery featured 147 works by Charles Counts, of which more than 50 came from Frank's collection. The accompanying photo of Frank shows him in front of part of his collection.

I could also say a few things about the generosity he showed to individuals in his immediate vicinity, but to give concrete examples would involve those he helped, which is beyond the point here.

Was Frank Hamilton then a Saint? No, he was just a generous human being with a talent which by life has never been fully recognized. Simply because he was great in a field that can't be measured in terms of dollars. He didn't look for sponsors, subventions or support, he just did it all by himself. He could grudge at times, sure: whenever some well subsidized state or not state run archive didn't provide him with what were crucial data for any one of his chronologies! Some people may have found him too persistent in his pursuit, but I found a kindred spirit in Frank.

Frank died in his sleep on the morning of Wednesday December 7 after a long battle against cancer that lasted about nine months, he was diagnosed last March. He kept strong and worked feverishly on further augmenting the Corelli chronology until his health prevented him from continuing to do so about three weeks ago.

I contemplate the existence of God at times and the only thing that I know for sure to date is that if God exists, he must have been in great need of chronologists, for taking Frank so soon after my other friend and collaborator Tom Kaufmann.

Rest in peace, both of you.
René Seghers, Amsterdam 9 December 2011