James Franklin Niblock

November 1, 1917January 3, 2018

James Niblock died peacefully in his sleep in his East Lansing home on Wednesday, January 3, 2018. He was preceded in death by his wife of 68 years, Helen Beall Niblock, in October of 2015. He is survived by his two children, Howard Niblock (67) of Appleton, WI and Cynthia Thoen (60) of Cedar, MN, and by his grandson Elliott James Niblock (31). James Niblock, an accomplished violinist and renowned composer, was born in Scappoose, OR on November 1, 1917. His early musical background includes violin study with Franck Eichenlaub, Jascha Brodsky, and Josef Gingold as well as music composition study with Roy Harris and Paul Hindemith. Niblock 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. From 1948 until 1985 he was a Professor of Music at Michigan State University, where he served as Chairman of the College of Music for 15 years. During that time he was also concertmaster of the Lansing Symphony Orchestra. More than 100 of Niblock’s music compositions have been published. After his retirement from MSU, he continued to compose and perform, appearing often as a conductor at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp; there he conducted many performances of his own works, including the premiers of the operas Ruth and The Last Leaf. This past November, Niblock joined many friends and family members in a festive celebration of his 100th birthday. “In lieu of flowers, please consider making a memorial gift to: The MSU Music Library Archive (James Niblock collection) or Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp” The family is being served by Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, East Chapel. Memories and condolences may be shared at


No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.

James Franklin Niblock

have a memory or condolence to add?


receive updates when new memories are posted

June Zoerhof

April 26, 2018

To the family of James Niblock, my condolences upon your great loss.

Dr. Niblock was my theory teacher at MSC in 1950-51. Not only was he very kind and understanding but he helped me immensely at this early stage in my musical development. I was a voice major and piano minor but gained from his vast knowledge. He always had time to answer my questions and to help me during my college years. He leaves behind a huge legacy and many dear friends and wonderful family. I continue to teach privately, direct choirs and sing in choral groups. All who knew Dr.Niblock have been blessed.

June Cannon Zoerhof

Marlis / Dieter/Susi Klische

January 10, 2018

I had the pleasure to get to know both Prof. Niblock and his wife - both very affectionate and great personalities.
I will remember James Niblock as a calm and level-headed person in all kinds of situations, and not only as a great musician but a person with many skills and talents.
I will miss him as the exceptional person he was and the inspiration he gave to us all!
He was a real friend and a great believer in the International friendship between the folks of this world Thank you for all you did for us in Babenhausen /Bavaria .Only time will show the great loss.Your German friends - - in special Marlis and Dieter Klische and daughter Susi.

Dale Nesbary

January 10, 2018

in 1973, Dr. Jim Niblock's clear and supportive words sent me on the leadership and musicianship trajectory of my life. Thank you Jim for your mentoring and support.

Tyler Young

January 9, 2018

You will be missed. I know that Howard and I irritated you a bit back in 1966 with that Batman record.

Rachael Nyman

January 9, 2018

Dr. Niblock was a great man. My mother, Sandy Sheroky thought so highly of him and so did I. Now they are together in heaven, along with Mrs. Niblock and my father. He will be missed greatly. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Rachael Nyman( Sandy Sheroky's daughter and past employee at BLFAC)

Ann Marie Bingham

January 9, 2018

Jim was such a kind, gentle man. Ed and I have known and loved him since the mid 80's and we cherish the many memories we have of him.

Joey Vetter

January 8, 2018

1983, 1984 and 1985 Blue Lake In Bavaria
2015, 2016 and 2017 Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp
Thank you, Doc!

Joey Vetter (Berlin, Germany) and Wolfi Vetter (Green Bay, Wisconsin)

Brotons & Mercadal, Edicions Musicals

January 8, 2018

The year 2018 has started with sad news: Dr. James Niblock has passed away on 2nd of January, only 2 months after his 100th birthday. We want to give our condolences to his family, specially to his sun Howard, and also to the Blue Lake Festival family.
For us, it was a pleasure to know him and to work with him and his creation. As publishing company, we will keep on promoting his works to assure the durability of his music.
Actually we are publishing his last opera Ruth & Naomi, premiered last summer during the Blue Lake Festival. RIP

Ann Bloomquist

January 7, 2018

.....great memories....many wonderful years

Kenneth and Ann Bloomquist

January 7, 2018

It is with great fondness that I will always remember Jim. He was my guide, mentor, confidant, and friend. My wife and I feel so very fortunate to have been able to celebrate his life on the one hundredth birthday of this truly remarkable man.