Gershwin – Selections from Porgy and Bess for Woodwind Quintet

by Max Derrickson

George Gershwin
(Born in Brooklyn, NY in 1898; died in Hollywood, CA in 1937)

Selections from Porgy and Bess for Woodwind Quintet

  1. Overture: Catfish Row
  2. Summertime
  3. A Woman is a Sometimes Thing
  4. My Man’s Gone Now
  5. I Got Plenty O’ Nuthin’
  6. It Ain’t Necessarily So
  7. There’s a Boat Dat’s Leabin’ Soon for New York
  8. Oh, Lawd, I’m On My Way

Just on the heels of his extraordinary success with Rhapsody in Blue in 1924, Gershwin was launching a new musical, Oh, Kay!, in 1926.   In the throes of its rehearsals, Gershwin found he couldn’t sleep one night, and he picked up the new and hugely popular novel, Porgy (1924), by American author DuBose Heyward (1885-1940).  The composer was enthralled [. . .]  Porgy, was based on a real character he knew named “Goat Sammy,” a crippled man who got his way through town riding a cart pulled by a goat.  The novel had all the elements for great theatre: [. . .]  he hoped to call Porgy and Bess.

Since he was about 16 Gershwin had been enamored with the idea of writing an opera as the best way to get “popular” music into the Classical world, but for various reasons, it would take him another nine years to complete Porgy and Bess and to premiere it in 1935 in Boston.  Historically speaking, it was a triumph of firsts, [. . .]  Today, however, the opera Porgy and Bess is recognized as an American masterpiece,         [. . .]  the opera’s almost embarrassing wealth of great music virtually begs to be played in any combination possible.  [. . .] arrangement for woodwind quintet is yet another example of the timeless appeal of Gershwin’s music.