Kenneth Frederick Hince (1926-2018) was born in Melbourne and educated at Xavier College and the University of Melbourne. He served briefly in the RAAF in 1945. After the War, he returned to university, but eventually abandoned his medical studies and instead studied music and English. He was the music librarian at Melbourne University from 1949 to 1952. In 1958 he returned to Xavier College, where he taught modern languages and helped establish the school library.
Hince began selling books from his home and he issued his first catalogue in 1959. In 1960 he opened a second-hand bookshop in Melbourne. The business prospered and he gave up teaching in 1964. In 1972 he moved his business from Bourke Street to a shop in Prahran. Among the collections that he sold, either through his shop or at the auctions that he organised, were the libraries of Dame Mabel Brookes, Lord Casey, R.H. Croll, Dorothea Mackellar and Peter Benson Walker. His final catalogue (no. 99), before passing the business to his daughter Barbara, appeared in March 1995. In that year he moved to the country town of Euroa, where he established a new bookshop, Euroa Fine Books. He was the founding president of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers.
For over 30 years Hince was recognised not only as one of the foremost antiquarian booksellers in Australia, but also as a leading music critic and reviewer. After a few years with the Bulletin, he became music critic with the Australian when it commenced publication in 1964, and held the post until 1977. From 1978 to 1994 he was the music critic with the Age.
The Hince Collection of books, music and manuscripts was purchased by the Library from Hince in 1969. Further substantial instalments were purchased in 1974, 1986 and 1988. In 1994 the Library acquired a large collection of his personal papers, manuscripts and printed ephemera.
The collection contains about 2700 books and pamphlets, of which about 200 are Australian imprints. It mostly relates to Western music from medieval times to the twentieth century, but there are also some books on Indonesian music and on ballet and the performing arts generally. Its great strength is in biographical and critical works on composers and musicians. There are also many works on musical history, theory, technique and interpretation. It includes works by critics such as Hector Berlioz, Eric Blom, M.D. Calvocoressi, Edward Dent, Alfred Einstein, Eduard Hanslink, Gordon Jacob, Henry Krehbiel, Ernest Newman, Ebenezer Prout, Percy Scholes, Robert Schumann, Donald Tovey, Francis Toye and Richard Wagner.
Most of the books date from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, but there are some earlier imprints. They include:
Billington, Thomas, Pope’s Messiah: Opera XIII (1784)
Busby, Thomas, A Complete Dictionary of Music 
Green, James, A Book of Psalmody: Containing Chanting-tunes (1751)
The collection also contains a large number of concert, recital and opera programs. Most of them date from the twentieth century, but there are a small number documenting Australian performances in the second half of the nineteenth century.
The original collection contained about 1200 albums and pieces of sheet music published in Australia and 2200 albums and pieces of sheet music published overseas. A further 1700 items were received in the later instalments. The Australian music includes a considerable number of nineteenth-century salon songs, patriotic songs, ballads, opera libretti, waltzes, polkas, marches and piano sonatas, as well as some chamber and orchestral works. Among the composers represented in the collection are John Antill, Nicholas Boscha, Vera Buck, Leon Caron, Cesare Cutolo, Paolo Giorza, Alfred Hill, Dulcie Holland, William James, Louis Lavater, Carl Linger, G.W. Marshall-Hall, Alfred Plumpton, Peter Sculthorpe, Margaret Sutherland and G.W. Torrance.
The overseas component consists primarily of published editions of orchestral, piano and operatic works of major European composers such as Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Rossini, Mendelsohn, Schumann, Liszt, Berlioz, Debussy, Ravel and Elgar. While the composers represented range from Henry Purcell to Benjamin Britten and William Walton, the main strength is in nineteenth-century works, particularly vocal works. They include operas, operettas, sacred music, Italian and Irish songs, lieder, salon songs, children’s songs and sacred music.
As well as a group of manuscript scores, especially works of Frederick Earp and W.G. Price, the collection contains letters by Hector Berlioz, Percy Grainger, Fritz Hart, Sir Bernard Heinze, Fritz Kreisler, G.W.L. Marshall-Hall, Henry Tate and others. There are documents concerning the Verbruggen Orchestra, the Lady Northcote Permanent Orchestra and other Melbourne orchestras. There are also photographs of Percy Grainger and other musicians and albums of newspaper cuttings relating to the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, music criticism by Henry Tate and Harold Robb, and music in Melbourne and Sydney between 1900 and 1967.
The most substantial group of manuscripts relate to the Australian composer and violinist Hermann T. Schrader (1860–1934). They include reminiscences of his student years in Leipzig, where he studied under Hans von Bulow, diaries, reviews, programs, family papers, photographs and printed and manuscript scores.
The core of the personal papers is a lengthy series of files documenting the work of Hince as a music critic from 1955 to 1994. They contain letters, interviews, typescripts by Hince, biographical notes, concert schedules, music catalogues, record releases and photographs. They include files on composers such as Don Banks, Nigel Butterley, Frank Callaway, George Dreyfus, Keith Humble, Peter Sculthorpe and Larry Sitsky, as well as performers, orchestras, writers, music societies, music publishers, record companies, music festivals, educational institutions, music magazines and government bodies. In addition, there are invitations to concerts and recitals, reviews of concerts, operas, records and books, and publicity material, press releases, programs and catalogues.
The books and pamphlets in the Hince Collection have been catalogued and integrated in the Music and general collections, while the programs have been added to the Australian Ephemera Collection. The accession slips for the books acquired in 1969 have been bound in two volumes. Australian albums and sheet music have been catalogued individually and added to the Australian Music Collection. The overseas music has been kept together as a formed collection within the Music Collection.
The manuscripts and personal papers are held in the Manuscripts Collection at MS 2691 and MS 6566. Online finding aids for both collections are available at https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-254339381/findingaid and https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-296309989/findingaid. The papers of Hermann Schrader are held separately at MS 9734.
Bebbington, Warren, (ed.), The Oxford Companion to Australian Music, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1997, pp. 269–70.
Clarke, Anthony, Fond Farewell to a Constant and a Polished Performer, The Age, 26 August 1994, p. 19.
First posted 2008 (revised 2019)