You could say that the pipe organ brought one Northfield couple together. Ernie Milbrandt likes to listen. His wife, Phyllis, likes to play. Soon, they’ll have more chances for both, as they install their very own pipe organ inside their home.
When they met, they were both single parents, both working in Rochester and attending many organ recitals. She took organ lessons and he sang in the church choir and served on the pipe organ committee. They often saw one another at these recitals. With the help of a mutual acquaintance, a shared love of music and a little curiosity, they got to know one another. Today, they have been married for nearly 22 years.
They built their home in Northfield in 1999. Their living room was great for entertaining, with a fireplace, couch and a beautiful view out the back windows. But something was missing — an organ.
“It was a pipe dream, you might call it,” said Phyllis, laughing.
For years, they had hoped to buy a pipe organ. Ernie said that they would hear of one every so often, but it might be far away or rather expensive. They finally found one at a catholic church in Arcadia, Wisc. The church had disassembled it and replaced it with a digital organ. After some careful thought and negotiation — ensuring that their living room could bear the weight and that it could be put back together — Ernie surprised Phyllis with the news.
“I was so excited,” she said. “We had kind of given up.”
They had to move their piano down a flight of stairs to make room and stored the organ’s pieces in the garage for a few months.
“It’s slowly coming together,” said Ernie.
David Grandall was in their home on Thursday, assembling the instrument.
They hope that it will be a nice activity to share when they get older. Phyllis said that retirement gives her more time to practice.
Their interest in music is shared by others in the family. They have six children between them and 10 grandchildren and have musically-gifted grandchildren on both sides. All of the grandchildren who are old enough have begun to take piano lessons. One plays the bassoon. Another plays in a jazz band. Phyllis’s mother was also a church organist.
The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."