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James Niblock passed away at 100 years of age on January 3rd of 2018 in the East Lansing home where he had resided since 1954. He was born in Scappoose, Oregon, on November 1, 1917. His early musical training included violin study with Franck Eichenlaub in Portland and Jascha Brodsky in Philadelphia. After serving in the US Air Force (1942-46), he began graduate work at Colorado College, where he studied violin with Josef Gingold and music composition with Roy Harris and Paul Hindemith.

From 1948 until 1985 James Niblock was a faculty member of the College of Music at Michigan State University where he taught theory and composition, performed in the Beaumont String Quartet, and served as Chairman of the College of Music for 15 years, during which time he also was Concertmaster of the Lansing Symphony Orchestra.


James Niblock produced more than 150 major compositions. He received a B.A. and B.Ed. from Washington State University, an M.A. from Colorado College, and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. In April, 2006, Michigan State University honored him with the first ever Distinguished Emeritus Faculty Award for his continuing work in Fine Arts Education—mainly accomplished through his more than 40 years association with the Blue Lake fine Arts Camp, an organization founded for and dedicated to promoting Arts Education for young people. In August 2012 he received the Alumni Achievement Award from the Washington State University Alumni Association.


James Niblock’s son, Howard Niblock, was born on July 11, 1950 in Lansing, Michigan. His early musical training included oboe study with Paul Harder and Daniel Stolper. He received degrees from the University of Michigan and from Michigan State University. For 37 years, from 1981-2018, he was Professor of Music at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin.  He previously held faculty positions at Luther College and Ohio University. He has published essays, articles, reviews, and arrangements, as well as original compositions. As an oboist he performed widely in Europe as well as in the United States, made two concert tours of China, and also performed at several conferences of the International Double Reed Society. In retirement he no longer performs, putting a greater emphasis on his writing.

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