<i>Porgy and Bess</i> on Disc, Film, and the Concert Stage

Howard Pollack

in George Gershwin

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780520248649
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933149 | DOI:
Porgy and Bess on Disc, Film, and the Concert Stage

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During the original Broadway run of Porgy and Bess, Gershwin prepared a five-movement orchestral suite, allegedly hoping in this way to salvage some of the music cut from the Theatre Guild production. Perhaps he prepared the suite with an eye to the work's purely instrumental sections, the better to make the transition to a symphonic setting. Porgy and Bess had various histories, but two primary ones: as a frequently performed stage work and as an important resource for popular and jazz artists. As the most successful American opera to date and one of the most internationally popular ever written—as well as one composed for an almost all-black cast—Porgy and Bess held a unique position in the annals of opera. But in light of its larger life, the work seemed to constitute a phenomenon distinct from any other piece of music in the repertoire.

Keywords: orchestral suite; Porgy and Bess; American opera; all-black cast; popular musicians; jazz musicians; George Gershwin

Chapter.  10018 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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