1871–1955

Introduction

Born: Ap­ril 1, 1871, Eids­voll, Ak­ers­hus, Nor­way.

Died: June 1, 1955, North­field, Min­ne­so­ta.

Buried: Oak­lawn Ce­me­te­ry, North­field, Min­ne­so­ta.

portrait

Biography

Son of a fac­to­ry work­er, Chris­ti­an­sen em­i­grat­ed to Am­er­i­ca at age 17, sett­ling in Wash­burn, Wis­con­sin.

He stu­died at Augs­burg Col­lege, Min­ne­a­po­lis, Min­ne­so­ta, and in 1897 re­turned to Eur­ope to stu­dy three years at the Roy­al Con­ser­va­to­ry of Mu­sic in Leip­zig, Germany.

In 1901, he was re­cruit­ed by John N. Kil­dahl, pre­si­dent of St. Ol­af Col­lege, North­field, Min­ne­so­ta. He was a skilled con­duct­or, di­rect­ing bands and choirs alike.

He a­ssumed di­rect­ion of the St. Ol­af Band in 1903, and took the en­semble on tour to Nor­way in 1906 to play for King Haa­kon VII, mak­ing it the first col­lege mu­sic en­sem­ble to con­duct a tour abroad.

Though Chris­ti­an­sen’s first love was the vi­o­lin, he re­ceived in­ter­na­tion­al fame as di­rect­or of the St. Ol­af Choir, 1912–44.

The St. Ol­af Choir was found­ed as an out­growth of the St. John’s Lu­ther­an Church Choir in North­field, Min­ne­so­ta.

Christiansen was con­sid­ered a pi­o­neer in the art of a cap­pel­la chor­al mu­sic. He com­posed and ar­ranged ov­er 250 mu­sic­al se­lect­ions, and his chor­al tech­niques were spread through­out Am­er­i­ca by St. Ol­af gra­du­ates.

Sources

Music