Joseph Zinn Christensen (1944-1998) was born March 15, 1944 in Ogden, Utah. After studies with Faye Hanson, he earned a Bachelor of Music degree (1967) with a major in Music Education from the University of Michigan (where he studied trumpet with Clifford Lillya and a Master of Music degree (1968) with a major in Music Education and a minor in psychology from the University of Michigan.
Prior to coming to Iowa State University, he taught at Eastern Michigan University (1968) and Louisiana Tech University (1968-1973). Christensen served Iowa State as an Assistant Professor of Music and Assistant Director of Bands (1973-1978), and as an Associate Professor of Music and Director of Bands (1979 to 1998), a total of twenty-five years. The Iowa State band program included nine bands and five jazz combos.
“Mr. C” conducted and adjudicated bands throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. He served as president of the Big 8 Band Directors Association, the Iowa Music Educators Association, and the Iowa Bandmasters Association. He was co-chairman of the Iowan’s Alliance for Arts Education and Vice President of the Ames International Orchestra Association.
Christensen received a Faculty Citation from Iowa State University in 1993. He was an honorary member of the Golden Key National Honor Society, and received the National Band Association Citation of Excellence in March, 1997. He died September 17, 1998.
Personal Observations: “Mr. C,” as his students called him, was one of the finest musicians and motivators I have met. He lit a fire at Iowa State — within a few months of his arrival every trumpet major began practicing three hours a day on top of their rehearsals. He was willing to go an extra mile at all times: extra lessons, unscheduled conversations, evening rehearsals with my accompanists. He loaned me his Bach D trumpet, almost brand new, for a period of several months while I prepared baroque solo literature. I studied with Mr. C for two years.
“Mr. C” in the mid 70’s