“A band ought to have a sound all of its own. It ought to have a personality.” – Glenn Miller
Over the Rainbow was a song I always remembered from my adolescence, particularly, when I played it on my clarinet. I also recognized it for various soundtracks to movies I loved, such as The Wizard of OZ. However, I did not once ask any questions about this composer, nor did I know anything about his life. All I can recall is that his music moved me and it excited me.
On March 1st of 1904 in Clarinda, Iowa, Lewis Elmer Miller and Mattie Lou’ became parents to Alton Glenn Miller. They had good faith that their creation would be a great addition to their family, but they did not know how truly great of an asset he would become to the world. This family moved from place to place throughout Miller’s childhood; but in Nebraska, he fell deeply for the art of music. Miller’s father gave him a mandolin, but he quickly asked to exchange it for an old French horn and practiced whenever he could. Once he relocated in Colorado for high school, Miller participated in his school band, and eventually enrolled in college there. After failing most of his courses, Miller dropped out to pursue his dream--to become a professional musician.
Trying out for numerous orchestras and bands, Miller would not stop until he reached success. He toured with many different groups across the country as a musician and bandleader and enhanced his craft. In 1935, Miller went solo and his instrumental “Solo Hop” hit the top 10. He then tried to create his own orchestra, but struggled for a few years until he constructed the right group in 1939. Once it all began to come together, they performed in the well-known swing venue Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle, New York and it gave quite the impact. The performance was on the radio which gave him the exposure he dreamed of and the fame he desired to aid him in his musical journey. He then composed about 17 more top 10 hits, for example, “Moonlight Serenade,” “Stairway to the Stars,” and “Over the Rainbow.” He also composed his first number in a movie, Sun Valley Serenade in the early 1940s.
Alton Glenn Miller inspired the World War II era of music, presenting hope and a lively type of sound. Since he became such a leading character in the field of music, in 1942, he was requested to serve his country. He became a part of the U.S. Army, and eventually, the Army Air Force. He was assigned as a Captain very quickly after a couple of months of persuading those above him that he could evolve the army’s band thus altering the men’s attitude. So, he served his country with wonderful music. When he was transferred to the Army Air Force, he organized the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band and because of his achievement, the band was shipped out to England in 1943. Broadcasts of almost one thousand performances were heard by millions.
In the fall of 1944, when the band was based in Paris, Miller boarded a plane to Paris but was never seen again afterwards. His duty was to assemble everything for his group’s concerts, but that never happened due to his mysterious disappearance. The most interesting part of the whole ordeal was that fact that neither his body nor the plane was found. His personal life was very private as well; he left behind his wife and two children.
His music served this country with a feeling of joy. Even after his death, his music topped the charts and modernized swing. His disappearance was frequently