Glenn Miller And The Swing/Big Band Era Essay Example
Glenn Miller And The Swing/Big Band Era Essay Example

Glenn Miller And The Swing/Big Band Era Essay Example

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  • Pages: 5 (1281 words)
  • Published: December 24, 2018
  • Type: Autobiography
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Glenn Miller and the Swing/Big Band Era

Glenn Miller, born on March 1, 1904 in Clarinda Iowa, was a highly influential musician who led the most popular big band in the world from 1939 to 1942. His orchestra, which is considered the most beloved of the swing-era, achieved tremendous success across various melodic music genres. For two years, Miller curated an enjoyable and well-rounded show that had a lasting impact on other bands. Despite his family frequently moving to different locations such as North Platte, Nebraska and Grant City, Oklahoma, at the age of 13 he managed to purchase his first trombone using earnings made by milking cows for $2 a week. After attending high school in Fort Morgan, Colorado and studying at the University of Colorado for two years where his passion for music flouri


shed especially for playing the trombone, Miller joined Boyd Senter Band in Denver where his exceptional talent became evident. Fueled by his love for music, Miller decided to drop out of school and head to the west coast with hopes of achieving a successful career as a musician.

Miller started his career playing with various small bands. In 1926, he got the chance to join Ben Pollack's orchestra, along with renowned musicians such as Benny Goodman, Gill Robin, Fud Livingston, and Dick Morgan. During that time, the Pollack Band recorded "When I First Met Mary" and "Deed I Do", which are believed to be Miller's earliest arrangements. He stayed with the band until 1928 when they moved to New York. Meanwhile, Miller married his longtime love, Helen Berger, and moved with her to Manhattan.

Over the next fe

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years, Miller honed his skills by working with Red Nichols in pit orchestras, serving as Smith Ballew's musical director, and collaborating with the Dorsey Brothers. In 1934, he contributed to forming Ray Noble's American Orchestra, which gained popularity through radio broadcasts. As the lead trombonist and arranger, Miller played a significant role. In 1937, he left the band due to his growing popularity in big band circles and formed his own band known as the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra released a few records and embarked on a tour. However, their endeavor was destined for failure from the beginning.

Despite his initial struggles with keeping the orchestra together, Miller was forced to let go of all but four musicians. To distinguish himself from other bands, Miller sought to establish his own unique style. It was in 1938 that he took another chance, building up his new orchestra around the four remaining musicians: Hal McIntyre (alto), Rolly Bundock (bass), Chummy MacGregor (piano), and Bob Price (Glenn Miller Story). This time, Miller was fortunate to receive encouragement from friends and the support of one of General Artists corporation's most important agencies. Additionally, he managed to secure a record contract with RCA Victor's Budget Bluebird Label.

Glenn Miller embarked on another tour, showcasing his distinctive musical feature of having a clarinet doubling the sax melody an octave above. Despite challenging circumstances, a major breakthrough occurred in 1939. The General Artist Corporation secured Miller a performance at the Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle. This was the moment for Glenn Miller: on May 17, the band delighted a sold-out audience during their first night, surpassing all box-office records by the

end of their engagements. Subsequently, they journeyed to Baltimore in early September where they once again shattered all previous records at the Hippodrome Theater.

The orchestra came back to New York and performed for the largest audience in the city's history at the New York State Fare. Additionally, on September 9, they surpassed Guy Lombardo's record attendance from 1931, and on October 6, they contributed to Carnegie Hall achieving new record receipts. Simultaneously, the orchestra was actively recording; they were making four records per week. It was during this period, specifically on April 4, that Miller's signature tune "Moonlight Serenade" was recorded. Furthermore, "Little Brown Jug" was recorded on April 10, and "In the Mood" was recorded on August 1 ("Glenn Miller").

Starting in 1939, the orchestra embarked on a series of radio broadcasts that lasted for two years and nine months. These broadcasts, sponsored by the Chesterfield Cigarette Company, featured the orchestra three times a week and shared the top of the hit parade with the Andrew Sisters for the first 13 weeks. In 1941, 20th Century Fox released the film "Sun Valley Serenade" in which the orchestra performed songs like "I Know Why," "It Happened in Sun Valley," and "Chattanooga Choo Choo." The last of these numbers, "Chattanooga Choo Choo," sold over a million records and earned Glenn Miller his first "Golden Record." The following year, the orchestra appeared in the film "Orchestra Wives" and played songs like "Bugle Call Rag," "Serenade In Blues," "At Last," and "I've Got A Gal In Kalamazoo" (Glenn Miller Biography). Finally, in 1942, at the peak of his career, Glenn Miller joined the US Air Force.

Starting on October 7,

he commenced his service as a captain. His objective was to establish an orchestra to entertain the troops, which he accomplished by merging two Air Force Orchestras into a massive band. The newly formed orchestra featured numerous renowned musicians. The band, now officially known as the "American Band of the Allied Expeditionary Forces," arrived in Gourock, Scotland. On June 9, Glenn Miller conducted his inaugural radio broadcast for the Allied troops.

Four days later, the orchestra had their first successful concert at the Thurleigh Heavy Bombardment Base. However, there was only one more concert, which happened at the former Stoll Theater in London. On the afternoon of December 15, Miller drove to an RAF-Base and flew in a single engine plane to Paris ahead of his band. The weather was frightful; it was extremely cold, foggy, and wet. Lacking confidence, Miller expressed his doubts to the pilot, saying, "Maybe we should cancel this?" The flight officer teased him about his fear of flying by saying, "Do you want to live forever?" Subsequently, they took off and the plane vanished.

The members of the orchestra arrived the following day and were informed that Glenn Miller had not come with them. A frantic search for the plane was unsuccessful. According to official Army reports, it was believed that the plane crashed into the gray waters of the English Channel due to ice formation. Glenn Miller had been idolized by many, and his sudden death shocked millions of fans around the world who had listened to his music. His legend only grew after his tragic demise. The allure of his music continued to inspire people of all ages. Now, over

50 years since the public first embraced his successful Miller Sound, both the legend and his music remain alive and well.

Glenn Miller's big band sound has remained incredibly popular even after his death. The New Glenn Miller Orchestra, which was formed after he passed away, is now the most sought-after big band in the world for concerts and dance engagements. Widely considered as the greatest band of all time, their unique sound is adored by anyone who enjoys dance music. In 1995, a previously undiscovered recordings album was released, selling over 400,000 copies worldwide. It is the enduring quality of Miller's music that continues to make his songs popular today. Even middle school and high school jazz bands continue to play his arrangements and receive enthusiastic responses from audiences. Miller's records and films have become legendary through multiple reissues and frequent television appearances. Although plans for a biographical film about his life were disrupted by war confusion, "The Glenn Miller Story" starring James Stewart achieved massive success upon its premiere in 1954. Today, it remains cherished by all fans as a testament to one of history's most famous musicians.

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