School navigation

The Chronicle Magazine

Music Professor Emerita Kilbuck Mourned

  • News Image

Edith Kilbuck B.M. ‘52, professor emerita of music, died March 23 of respiratory failure at age 76. She served on the college faculty from 1963 until her retirement in 1989.

After graduating from Lewis & Clark, Kilbuck earned her master’s degree from the Juilliard School and her doctorate of musical arts in harpsichord and music history from the University of Oregon. She also studied in Vienna, Florence, Prague, Antwerp, Haarlem, and Oxford.

A specialist in German baroque keyboard music, she began her career as a pianist, then switched to harpsichord after developing a chronic arthritic condition. An accomplished performer, Kilbuck was also deeply committed to teaching and understanding music in the broader context of the liberal arts. According to David Stabler, music critic for the Oregonian, her students remember her for her toughness as a teacher and for the first compliment she bestowed on them.

In the late 1980s, Stabler praised Kilbuck for her “remarkably brave approach to performing what is often referred to as the ‘Old Testament’ of keyboard music,” namely J.S. Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier.” In 1976, she and violinist Endre Granat recorded Bach’s complete works for violin and harpsichord for the Orion label.

According to President Tom Hochstettler, Kilbuck is remembered “for her artistry, her eloquence, her dignity, her integrity–and her marvelous sense of humor. Throughout her life she retained a deep pride in, affection for, and engagement with her Native American heritage.”

Kilbuck is survived by her siblings, Katherine Beggs, Elizabeth Asbury, John Kilbuck, and Helen Muchow.

A memorial service held in Agnes Flanagan Chapel on April 11 featured harpsichord music requested by Kilbuck as well as organ solos by Lee Garrett, professor emeritus of music, and remembrances by Linda Besant B.M. ‘69, Bruce Lamott B.A. ‘70, and Steve Knox, professor emeritus of English. Contributions in Kilbuck’s memory may be made to the music department in support of its chamber music program.

Share this story on

The Chronicle Magazine

Contact Us