Mildred “Millie” Marie Young found her love for the piano early in life, at age four, when she led the choir into the sanctuary for a 4 a.m. church service on Christmas Day.
Mrs. Young died peacefully Jan. 26, 2014, surrounded by her family. She was 90.
She was born in Dayton, Ohio Dec. 12, 1923, to Edgar and Helena Minneman and after her first performance she quickly moved from the choir to her love, the piano, pressing her mother for lessons and began studying with her mother at age five. When she turned seven she began studying with her piano teacher, Anna Loges.
Throughout high school she continued her piano studies and added oboe to her repertoire at that time. Following her graduation she spent a year teaching piano in a grade school. In 1943, she entered the University of Michigan to study music education, but after one year in the department of education, she switched to the music department to study piano. She also studied organ with noted organist and educator Frieda Vogan. Mrs. Young was delighted to rekindle her friendship with her teacher and Mrs. Vogan’s son upon coming to Virginia later in her life, a friendship that lasted till Mrs. Vogan’s death in 2013.
While at the University of Michigan, Mrs. Young met John Andrews, her first husband, who played in the U of M band. They were married upon his return from WWII, in 1946. After they graduated, she and her husband moved to Los Angeles where Mrs. Young worked as an accompanist. In Los Angeles, they began a family, first David, then Lynn and finally Keith. The family moved to Anchorage, Alaska in 1960 and during her two years there, Mrs. Young played for the Anchorage Community Chorus and played two festivals conducted by Robert Shaw, who invited her to come to New York to play for him. However, she had to turn that offer down.
The family returned to North Hollywood, Calif. in 1962 and Mrs. Young began working for the Hollywood school system as a piano teacher, later moving to the Beverly Hills school system. Following her divorce, Mrs. Young and her daughter, Lynn moved to Europe in 1968, settling in Linz, Austria where she lived for 20 years. In Linz, Mrs. Young worked for the Landestheater Opera House, playing for the ballet, in the orchestra and even on stage for some productions. She was also the accompanist for the Linzer Singakademie, a community chorus founded in 1845. In 1977 she decided she wanted a harpsichord and built one from a kit, requiring hundreds of hours to complete. During her time in Austria, Mrs. Young built 13 harpsichords and a fortepiano and had become such an expert that the company asked her to teach at their workshops in Europe.
In 1988, Mrs. Young retired from the Landestheater and returned to the United States to be closer to family. She settled outside of Williamsburg and immediately became part of the musical life of that community. She worked as an accompanist for numerous voice teachers in the area, most prominently with Dr. Genevieve McGiffert with whom she had a close working relationship and personal friendship that lasted until Dr. McGiffert’s death in 2006. When Dr. McGiffert took over the podium of the Williamsburg Choral Guild in 1993, Mrs. Young came along as accompanist and she served in that role until her retirement in 2012, at the age of 88. Through the Choral Guild, Mrs. Young met her second husband, Bob Young, and they were married in 2002. They had a wonderful life together until Mr. Young’s death in 2004.
She traveled widely in Europe as a choral accompanist and following her return to the U.S. she looked forward to her annual trips back to Linz where she had many friends and colleagues to visit. For over 25 years she supported the efforts to build a new opera house in Linz, which opened in the spring of 2013. In May of 2013, Mrs. Young gathered enough strength to make her final trip to Linz, accompanied by her daughter Lynn and was able to see the performance of a new Philip Glass opera that opened the new Musiktheater.
In Williamsburg, Mrs. Young was a sought-after accompanist, working with voice teachers at the College of William and Mary as well with as private instructors. She delighted both in encouraging young singers and in supporting established performers. Her playing was always sensitive to the both the singer and the composer.
An avid quilter, Mrs. Young’s creations were always part of the Choral Guild’s annual fundraising auction, and can be found in many Williamsburg homes.
She is survived by her children, David Andrews and his wife, Ildi, of Dadeville, Ala., Lynn Trott and her husband, Barry, of Toano and Keith Andrews, of Nome, Ala.; step-daughters, Pam Young, of Williamsburg and Adrienne Young Thomas and her husband, Jimmy, of Grand Junction, Colo.; granddaughters, Kristine Andrews, of Haddonfield, N.J., Athena Andrews, of Saipan and Eleanor Trott, of Williamsburg; and step-grandsons, Henry Randolph, Owen Randolph, Calvin Thomas and Peter Thomas.
A memorial service will be held later in the spring.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Williamsburg Choral Guild, P.O. Box 1864, Williamsburg, VA 23187.
Please leave online condolences for the family at Nelsen Funeral Home.
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