Porgy and Bess


Commentary by Robin Rausch
Music Specialist at The Library of Congress

It was Dorothy Heyward who turned "Porgy" into a play. DuBose considered it to be more of a character study, and others expressed interest in turning it into a drama, but DuBose would not grant them permission. So Dorothy Heyward was working on turning it into a play secretly. And when George Gershwin expressed an interest in it, it forced Dorothy's hand and she had to confess what she was doing.

And DuBose looked it over and liked what he saw, and the two of them collaborated on the play, and then later of course George Gershwin immortalized it as "Porgy and Bess." And what a lot of people don't realize is that DuBose Heyward wrote some of the lyrics for "Porgy and Bess," and in fact he wrote the lyrics to some of the best known ballad numbers from "Porgy and Bess," such as "Summertime" and "My Man's Gone Now." And we have the original piano/vocal score of "My Man's Gone Now" on display in this exhibit.

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