Monday, December 15, 2014

Glenn Miller

On the stormy day of December 15, 1944, a military plane transporting big-band superstar Major Glenn Miller to Paris for a Christmas broadcast disappeared over the English Channel. It’s worth taking a moment, on the 70th anniversary of that event, to consider who America lost.

What Miller accomplished in his 40-year lifetime is astonishing. During the 1930s, Miller was among a handful of innovators, along with Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman, who brought the big-band era to its artistic peak. He also modernized military music during World War II. By the 1940s, John Philip Sousa’s marches sounded stale to many. Miller infused jazz elements into his wartime compositions such as “St. Louis Blues March.” This added a bit of zip without flouting too many conventions.

“A band ought to have a sound all of its own,” Miller said. “It ought to have a personality.”

The personality of Miller’s band stressed harmony, and the effect of his music was to promote national harmony. The appeal of such tunes as “Moonlight Serenade,” “Tuxedo Junction,” and “In the Mood” transcended not only the racial barrier but also — perhaps more impressively — the generational barrier. ....

Miller received the first-ever RCA golden record — signifying 1 million sold — for “Chattanooga Choo Choo” in 1942. That was also the year he joined the Army and relentlessly poured his talents into the war effort. Miller was famously the head of the Glenn Miller Army Air Forces Band. He was also, among other things, director of bands for the Army Air Forces training command and host of a radio broadcast called “I Sustain the Wings.” ....
Remembering Glenn Miller | National Review Online

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