Tom MierauTom Mierau died on June 22nd, 2017 after a long illness. This is his story -
My first encounter with a pipe organ… I was probably ten or twelve. I sang in the junior choir at church. After rehearsal one time, the choir director began playing the organ and I stayed behind to listen. He had me place my hand in the mouth of one of the façade pipes and started a scale up the pedalboard. I could hear the notes as he went up the scale coming from different sides of the façade as he went up the pedalboard until he hit the note where my hand was placed. I felt the wind, and of course, the pipe wouldn’t sound. It was such a revelation to me… I was “hooked”!
During my junior and senior high school years, a classmate of mine, had a few ranks of pipes hooked up to a console in his basement. We became good friends. The two of us explored the interior of more organ chambers than I can remember. He went off to college and studied under Robert Noehren. During that time Noehren was looking for someone to help out in his shop. I took that job and moved to Ann Arbor, MI the summer of 1961. Employment lasted about three months after which I came home and decided to go into military service.
Two of my three years in the army were spent in Germany. I saw lots of historical instruments while “on leave” during that period, to include the building that was Arp Schnitger’s shop. I travelled to Austria and visited Rieger Orgalbau in Schwarzach. Robert Noehren was kind enough to send Joseph von Glatter-Gotz a letter of recommendation for an apprenticeship. The apprenticeship never took place. By the time I was ready to be discharged from the military… I really wanted to go home.
Upon returning home, I somehow met George Collins in Akron, who was tuning an organ there. I don’t remember the details of that meeting, but it led me to move to the Pittsburgh area and to work for George for about nine months. During that period, I contacted Schantz Organ Company and was hired by Schantz. I worked there for 42 years. After retiring from Schantz, I worked an additional five years, under Chartles Kegg.
At some point while still at Schantz, I conceived the idea to build a website to provide essentially… an online classified advertising website, dedicated to church organs.. both pipe organs and electronic organs… https://www.churchorgantrader.com .
Now, in the “Autumn of my life”, it’s time to turn this resource over and retire from this as well. Richard Swanson will be “taking the reins” from here on.
Thomas R. Mierau