LIFE Archives: Glenn Miller {A Nightingale Sang…}

02/09/2011 § 1 Comment

Do you recall I went to Sleep No More a few months ago?  I noted that the production’s music was an interesting oeuvre, spanning decades and genres — but there was one song that I liked most of all, a jazz standard written in 1939 called “A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square.”  About a magical night spent falling in love, this song has been sung by many, but the version I prefer — and the version used in Sleep No More — is by the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Isn’t it just gorgeous…?

While I was familiar with a number of Glenn Miller Orchestra classics — Chattanooga Choo Choo, In the Mood, Moonlight Serenade, among others — I realized I actually did not know all that much about Glenn Miller himself, and upon a quick LIFE Archive search (which has been down for ages, praise Google for finally fixing the bug!), I turned up a batch of great photos of the band leader and band performing for US troops in Connecticut in 1943.

Between the years of 1939 and 1942, the Glenn Miller Orchestra had 70 — count ’em, seven-zero — top ten hits.  The Orchestra also had its own CBS radio show and appeared in feature films.  Most amazing though, was to find out that in 1942, at the height of popularity, Glenn Miller disbanded the Orchestra so that he could serve his country — musically, of course — in World War II.  Too old to be drafted, Miller joined the US Army Air Force, conducted and modernized army bands and eventually formed the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band.  On December 15, 1944 Miller boarded a Paris-bound plane in order to make performance arrangements for the band.  Tragically, Miller’s plane disappeared somewhere over the English Channel and was never found.

Miller’s story was made into a film in 1954, starring James Stewart.

Ladies watching “The Glenn Miller Story” in the theatre, 1954.

New to Glenn Miller?  This album has all the classics — a great starter.

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