Here are examples of the world wide popularity of the music of Glenn Miller;
First is a notice of a concert date for the US version of the GMO in North Carolina;
The “World Famous” Glenn Miller Orchestra will perform at 8 p.m. Jan. 12 at the Clover School District Auditorium, 1625 Highway 55 East in Gaston. Tickets are $15.
“The legendary Glenn Miller was one of the most successful dance bandleaders in the Swing era of the 1930s and ’40s. At the height of its popularity in 1942, Miller disbanded his group and volunteered for the U.S. Army, organizing the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band. On Dec. 15, 1944, Miller took off from England in a single engine plane to France, never to be seen again.”
“In 1956, the Miller estate authorized the formation of the present Glenn Miller Orchestra. Trombonist Gary Tole became the band’s leader last January.”
Second, the Miller estate also authorized versions of the GMO for Great Britain and Europe.
The Glenn Miller Orchestra (Europe) led by Wil Salden returns to Prague’s elegant Smetana Hall in the Municipal House for an evening of two performances, January 7 and 8, 2012 and with a new theme: In The Miller Mood.
“We have changed our program with several new songs; of course, completed with all the famous Glenn Miller hits, which people are waiting for in our shows,” Salden tells The Prague Post.
Whether the orchestra will continue to open and close their show with Miller’s classic “Moonlight Serenade” remains to be seen, but among Miller’s most popular faster dance-floor numbers, “In the Mood,” may be more appropriate for the group.
The Glenn Miller Orchestra was among the kings of the swing era from the 1930s to the early 1940s, during the heyday of jazz, when it was the dominant music on the radio and sold more than any other style of music. This was jazz played by large bands with written arrangements, and only occasionally with improvised solos. Most importantly, swinging jazz was high-velocity dance music with an unmistakable rhythmic drive – a much-needed healing sound, a temporary relief for people to forget about their troubles during the Great Depression.
The greatest bands of this era were led by Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Glenn Miller, but “In the Mood,” one of Miller’s biggest hits, best epitomizes the era. Recorded in 1939, it is the signature tune for dance-crazed youth of the inter-war period; swing music was still the rage during World War II and Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” was the de facto victory song of the Allies.
This is because by the 1940s, Miller’s Orchestra was the most popular swing band in America, with a radio program three times a week and starring roles in two Hollywood films – the most popular with Jimmy Stewart in the lead role.
Glenn Miller, born in 1904 in Iowa, first appeared on the scene as a trombonist in the late 1920s and played with Benny Goodman early on. He also played with Bing Crosby, the Dorsey Brothers and Coleman Hawkins, among others. Miller formed his own group in 1938 with a new sound produced by the clarinet leading the melodies while a tenor sax played the same note, and several other saxophones supported the song harmonically. This unique style set his band apart from the rest, especially on tunes like “In the Mood,” which begins with a saxophone blare.
When the United States went to war in 1942, Miller was inducted into the Army, but was soon named Captain with the assignment to modernize the Army’s band, and by 1943, he had organized the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band with the goal of entertaining American troops. This band played almost 1,000 concerts in less than a year, and 500 of these were broadcast on BBC, RFE or broadcasts in the States.
In the fall of 1944, Miller’s band was scheduled to make a six-week tour of Europe, while based in Paris. He had decided to go ahead of the group to make arrangements for the others, but on December 15, his flight from England never made it across the English Channel. He was never seen again.
The Glenn Miller Orchestra kept on going during World War II, despite the loss of its leader. Now, almost 70 years later, the group continues, currently led by Wil Salden from Holland, who has been band leader since 1990. Salden studied piano and accordion at the conservatory in Maastricht between 1968 and 1973. He says he began his studies of Miller’s music in 1978. His current group has 19 coed players, whereas Miller’s Orchestra in its heyday had up to 23 males.
Nineteen players, including two female vocalists, is still a bona fide orchestra, however, and every one of those players is needed to get the loud and forceful sound of dance-hall jazz. The group’s repertoire includes all of Miller’s best known anthems of the swing era, including “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” “Pennsylvania 6-5000,” “A String of Pearls,” “Moonlight Serenade,” and “Tuxedo Junction.”
The Glenn Miller Orchestra’s Prague concerts usually sell out, and for this and other reasons, Salden is looking forward to returning.
“In Prague and all other venues in the Czech Republic, people feel very happy after the show and that gives a very good feeling to all of us. So only this thought is enough to look forward to our next visit in January 2012,” he says.
And after all these years, Salden himself is still seduced by the music.
“The most important thing that attracts me to Glenn Miller’s music is that it seems to be very easy if you listen to, but to play this music, you have to change your mind,” he says.