Hamilton, Iain (opera) (Ellis)
- Hugo Cole
(b Glasgow, June 6, 1922). Scottish composer. After seven years in engineering, he won a scholarship to the RAM in 1947. Between 1951 and 1961 he taught at Morley College and at London University. He moved to the USA in 1961, later becoming professor at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, a post he held until 1981.
Hamilton’s early reputation was based on his concert works. It was not until 1974, when The Catiline Conspiracy was given its première by Scottish Opera, that his all-round abilities as librettist and dramatic composer were widely recognized. Hamilton deals briskly and cogently with a complex plot involving intrigue and corruption in high places. Pharsalia, the radio opera Tamburlaine and The Royal Hunt of the Sun are similarly concerned with the uses and misuses of power and with conflicts between personal and public interest; Hamilton’s lean and vigorous contrapuntal style is well suited to the illustration of such themes....