Richard S. Hill (1901–1961), after attending Phillips Exeter Academy, matriculated at Cornell University, earning his undergraduate degree in 1924. In 1929, he returned to Cornell to begin graduate work, originally in psychology. However, when Otto Kinkeldey arrived at Cornell in 1930 to become the first American chair in musicology, Hill’s interests soon shifted to music.
In 1939, Hill was called to the Library of Congress to be a member of the reference staff in the Music Division, and later became head of that unit. His knowledge of music bibliography made him the ideal person for this position. Paul Henry Lang, writing in the February 19, 1961, issue of the New York Herald Tribune stated:"There is scarcely a cultivated musician or scholar in this country who directly or indirectly did not receive valuable guidance or information from Mr. Hill."
In 1943, Hill became editor of Notes. Under his editorship (1943–1960), the journal grew from a mimeographed publication to a professionally-printed journal, broadened in scope, and which was to become one of the most important of all journals in the field of music. No record of his services to music bibliography can fail to mention another large-scale enterprise which was his own unique conception: the quarterly "Index of Record Reviews," where his editor duties often merged into collaboration with Kurtz Myers. Hill was elected the first president of the International Association of Music Libraries (IAML) in 1951, a post he held until 1955, and was one of the founding figures of RISM (Répertoire international de sources musicales).
Hill had a unique concept of music librarianship, far more comprehensive than the view of those who regard the librarian as the custodian of a collection, as a technician, as an administrator, or as an archivist. All such activities play their part, but the whole as he saw it was something infinitely more rich, more complex and creative.
Hill produced numerous publications that were substantial contributions to the fields of music and of scholarship. The high standards which he applied to studies and compilations of American music were likewise maintained for works in music bibliography and lexicography. As a reference librarian he knew the value of adequate tools and with this in mind he gave his personal scrutiny to numerous dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, yearbooks, "treasuries," and other storehouses of musical facts.
Vincent Duckles perfectly summed up Hill’s impact on the field: “He was one of the great generating personalities in the field of musical scholarship and librarianship...” (Notes 18, no. 2 [March 1961]: 196).