Paul J. Christiansen

1979 F. Melius Christiansen Lifetime Achievement Award
Paul J. Christiansen (1914-1997)

Paul J. Christiansen was a well known composer, clinician and conductor. He graduated from St. Olaf College at the age of 19 and then studied piano, composition, and conducting at Oberlin Conservatory and Eastman School of Music. In 1937 the president of Concordia College in Moorhead, MN invited him to become chairman of the music department, a charge that included directing both orchestra and choir. After 50 years, Dr. Christiansen retired as director of the Concordia Choir, remaining on the staff, on leave, to conduct workshops.

The famed Paul Christiansen Choral Schools, held during the summer months throughout the United States, were begun by Dr. Christiansen's father, F. Melius. They continued to give singers, directors, and teachers the opportunity to conduct and sing great choral literature, under the direction of Paul Christiansen. Each year these schools attracted choral directors from all areas of the country.

Dr. Christiansen composed and arranged a large number of choral works and lectured at many universities across the Unites States. He received honorary doctorates from Adams State College, Alamosa, CO and from St. Olaf College. In 1978 he received the St. Olav Medal from the government of Norway. Earlier he was honored by the College of St. Thomas as one of three Minnesota artists to receive their centennial medal.

After retirement, Christiansen continued to conduct workshops and clinics with school, church, and community choruses, and to spend part of each day at the piano writing new compositions and arrangements for choir. In the afternoons he enjoyed playing tennis.