Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hine, Clytie May (1887–1983)

by Wayne Hancock

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Clytie May Hine (1887-1983), soprano and vocal teacher, was born on 8 May 1887 in Adelaide, only child of William Henry Hine, South Australian-born jeweller, and his wife Mary, née McDonald. At 7 Clytie began piano lessons with W. R. Pybus, and at 16 entered the Elder Conservatorium of Music, University of Adelaide, to study with Bryceson Treharne. She later learnt singing from Professor Frederick Bevan, and in 1906 was awarded an Elder singing scholarship. As a lyric soprano she rapidly became a popular figure on Adelaide concert platforms. She graduated as an associate in music in 1908, and in April next year travelled to London to study voice at the Royal College of Music under Medora Henson. Her striking beauty rendered her particularly effective in opera and she made a successful début in 1911 at Covent Garden as Freia in Wagner’s Das Rheingold. In 1913 she was a member of the Denhof Opera Company.

On 18 March 1914 at the parish church of St John the Evangelist, Kilburn, London, Hine married John Mundy (d.1971), a cellist. During the war years she sang with the (Sir Thomas) Beecham Opera Company: her roles included Nedda in Pagliacci, Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, Musetta in La Bohème, Elsa in Lohengrin, Desdemona in Otello, and the countess in The Marriage of Figaro. She also appeared in concert and in oratorio. In 1915 she was the soprano soloist in the first production of Algernon Blackwood’s The Starlight Express, with incidental music by Sir Edward Elgar, an important engagement of her early career.

The Mundys left Britain for the United States of America late in 1920. They settled in New York, and established a reputation for their innovative joint recitals featuring early English music. In 1924 Hine toured extensively throughout the USA and beyond with William Wade Hinshaw’s Mozart Opera Company. Retiring from performing in the late 1920s, she became a renowned singing teacher. Her students included Arthur Kent, Irene Jordan, Alfred Drake, Nanette Fabray, Celeste Holm and, when they visited New York, (Sir) Peter Pears and Kathleen Ferrier.

As part of the training for her students, Hine directed scenes from opera, sometimes with Benjamin (Lord) Britten at the piano; and occasionally with (Sir) John Barbirolli or Giorgio Polacco conducting. She was closely associated with Britten and Pears, both professionally and personally, for many years. Pears found her `a wonderful woman to work with, very sympathetic and forthright’. Before the American première of Britten’s Peter Grimes in 1946, she supervised a reading at her studio for Serge Koussevitzky (who had commissioned the opera) and Leonard Bernstein.

Hine also taught at the Academy of Vocal Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was musical adviser to the American Theatre Wing. Actors such as Kirk Douglas and John Forsythe studied speech with her. She retired in the late 1950s; in 1970 the Royal College of Music established an annual scholarship in her name. Survived by her son, John Hine Mundy, a medieval historian, and her daughter, Meg Mundy, an actress, she died on 27 June 1983 in New York.

Select Bibliography

  • C. Headington, Peter Pears (1992)
  • Register (Adelaide), 11 Sept 1909, p 5, 22 Jan 1910, p 5, 31 Dec 1910, p 8, 28 Oct 1911, p 8
  • Times (London), 20 Oct 1911, p 9, 12 Aug 1983, p 10
  • Australian Musical News, 1 Aug 1934, p 2
  • Opera News (New York), 14 Dec 1974, p 28
  • W. Hancock, `Clytie Hine Mundy’, Music Stand, Oct 1996, p 6, and Nov-Dec 1996, p 8
  • W. Hancock and M. Elphinstone, Clytie Hine: The Student Years (typescript, 1995, copy on ADB file).

Citation details

Wayne Hancock, 'Hine, Clytie May (1887–1983)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hine-clytie-may-12640/text22775, published in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 15 September 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

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