Dieter Christensen, an eminent ethnomusicologist and a longtime faculty member of the Department of Music at Columbia University and Director of Columbia's Center for Ethnomusicology, passed away in Berlin, Germany on March 1, 2017. Born on April 17, 1932 in Berlin, Professor (Emeritus) Christensen had a seminal role in advancing ethnomusicology in the United States and internationally, as a scholar, an editor, a teacher of graduate students, an archivist, and in particular as the longtime Secretary General of the International Council for Traditional Music (1981-2001) and editor of its journal, The Yearbook for Traditional Music, during the same period. Prof. Christensen's expertise led him to be retained by Columbia University in 1971 as a consultant to evaluate the recently acquired "Laura Boulton Collection of Liturgical and Traditional Music" and to advise the faculty in the early stages of a new PhD program in Ethnomusicology developed in the late 1960s by Prof. Willard Rhodes, Prof. Nicholas England, and Prof. Jack Beeson (Department Chair). In 1972 Professor Christensen was appointed as the first faculty member to direct the (then) Center for Studies in Ethnomusicology (now the Center for Ethnomusicology) and to lead the fledgling PhD program in the discipline. The complete obituary (written by Professor Aaron A. Fox) is available here.
The Center for Ethnomusicology, The Department of Music, and the community of Columbia ethnomusicology wish to express our condolences to Prof. Christensen's family, friends, colleagues, and collaborators. Prof. Christensen's funeral will take place on March 20th, 2017 at 12 noon, at the Luther Friedhof, Malteserstrasse, Lankwitz, Berlin, Germany.
Messages of condolence and remembrance may be sent to Prof. Christensen's daughter, Carolyn, either via email at: c.christensen [at] vodafonemail.de
or by postal mail to:
For those wishing to mark Prof. Christensen's passing, we suggest a donation in his name to the highly rated, non-partisan London-based NGO Kurdish Human Rights Project.