INDIVIDUAL

Christeson, Robert P.

Identifier
NFAI.E.00007400
Preferred Name
Christeson, Robert P.
Library of Congress Naming Authority
Christeson, R. P., 1911-1992 [info:lc/authorities/names/n82224581]
Entity Date
1911 - 1992
Biography/History

Robert P. Christeson was born September 5, 1911, to Ethel May and Frank C. Christeson in Dixon, Missouri. After graduating from Dixon High School in 1928, he attended Drury College in Springfield., Missouri. After one year he transferred to the University of Missouri where he obtained a degree in Agriculture in 1933. The Depression made it necessary for Christeson to move back to Pulaski County after graduation to help his father on the family farm.
He was able to find a job as a county extension agent in 1935 and held numerous positions in agriculture such as farm management specialist for the Farm Security Administration in New Madrid, Missouri, agricultural research at the University of Arkansas, and agricultural statistician for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Las Cruces, New Mexico; Lincoln, Nebraska; Lafayette, Indiana; and Washington, D.C. He also served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1943. Christeson met Joan Nalley in Lafayette and the two married August 22, 1961. He retired in 1969 and moved to Auxvasse, Missouri, to be near his father.

Christeson grew up at a time when fiddling and square dancing were regular social activities. Every community had its fiddler and Christeson wanted to become one of them. He received a fiddle for Christmas one year and learned to play. He also played the reed organ and piano and enjoyed playing accompaniment for other fiddlers. Christeson did not keep up with his fiddling throughout the 1930s and 1940s and one night at a square dance in Las Cruces, he tried to teach a young fiddler a tune and realized that he had forgotten it. This event sparked a life-long mission of collecting song books, albums, sheet music, and wire recordings of fiddletunes throughout Missouri and the Midwest. He bought a Webster wire recorder in 1948 and began taking his vacations in Missouri to record the fiddlers he remembered from his youth.

Christeson compiled his fiddle tunes in the Old-Time Fiddler’s Repertory: 245 Traditional Tunes, published by the University of Missouri Press in 1973. The University Press also released a two-record companion album to the book that year. He published a second volume in 1984. Also in 1973, a two-record album titled, The Old-Time Fiddler’s Repertory: Historical Field Recordings of 41 Traditional Tunes, was released by the University Press. Christeson played the fiddle on Now That’s a Good Tune: Masters of Traditional Missouri Fiddling, produced by the Cultural Heritage Center, University of Missouri, and released by Eagle Records of Columbia, Missouri, in 1989.

Christeson, known as the Dean of Missouri Fiddle Music, died April 9, 1992.´╗┐

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