Death of New York’s best-loved agent, 75

Death of New York’s best-loved agent, 75


norman lebrecht

August 02, 2018

The music biz is in mourning for Charles Hamlen, a gentleman and caring mentor.

Co-founder with Edna Landau in 1979 of what became IMG Artists, Charlie quit the business after selling to Mark McCormack in order to start a charity for people with Aids, which was then ravaging New York. It is called Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS.

He returned to chair IMG when its present owners got into moral and legal difficulties but he was never tainted by the seamy side. He was one of those people who made it possible for us to believe that you could work in the biz and still come out with clean hands.

Tributes are pouring in.

Ed Yim: One of our greatest people .

Anne Midgette: One of the true good guys in classical music has left the building. Such a kind man with such integrity and the courage of his convictions.

Janet Cowperthwaite: A brilliant, elegant, and kind man. A role model for many.

Crystal Wei: The first time I spoke to Charlie he was RSVPing to an event over the phone, and he gave me most gracious compliment even though we were strangers and I was a lowly assistant and we might never meet. I was so embarrassed. 10 years later we sat next to each other at work every day and it was always the same. He probably paid me 500 compliments over the years, and isn’t that a lot and a great more than most could do. There is no moment too mundane or dire to be held in grace and gratitude, and that I learned from the miracle superbeing that is and was charles Hamlen. I’m sure everyone has the same Charlie story. I will bowl for you forever. Gratitude.


  • Nick2 says:

    This is such sad news even for those of us who knew that medical complications from his bone marrow transplant some years ago were serious. Few in the business of artists’ agencies were more loved than Charlie. There can be no greater evidence than the number of artists who willingly gave their time and their artistry for concerts and recitals which Charlie organized to raise huge sums for AIDS charities all over the USA after he had left IMG Artists.

    I had the pleasure of working with him and being a close friend for 30 years. Rare were my visits to New York without dinner with Charlie at his favourite eaterie starting with an oversized Manhattan on his part and an oversized vodka martini on mine. Rare, too, were the times when we would not happen upon one or more of his legion of close friends. At this sad time, let’s remember also Edna Landau with whom he enjoyed such a close personal and professional relationship.

    RIP dear Charlie. I will miss you greatly.

  • Portia Zwicker says:

    Charles Hamlen and I went to the same elementary school, 37 years apart. But I didn’t meet him until 2009 when he came back to IMG and I was working there. He was one of the nicest people I met there. Very sad to hear this news.

  • David J. Hyslop says:

    Charles was a great man and a great talent .

    His death is a great loss to the field.