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George GershwinHis Life and Work$
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Howard Pollack

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780520248649

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520248649.001.0001

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Porgy and Bess (1935)

Porgy and Bess (1935)

(p.567) Chapter Thirty-One Porgy and Bess (1935)
George Gershwin

Howard Pollack

University of California Press

Porgy and Bess, which could now be considered as much a “folk” as a “jazz” opera, occupied George Gershwin and Dubose Heyward for about two years, from the fall of 1933 to its Broadway premiere on October 10, 1935. The aspect of the novel Porgy that initially earned the most praise—its portrayal of Charleston's blacks—became over time its most controversial feature. Moreover, the main characters belong to a larger community that itself takes center stage, a group victimized within by substance abuse, violence, quackery, and superstition, and without by racism, injustice, and nature, yet still hopeful and inspiring in its compassion and faith. The work's use of popular dialects and musical idioms, and its congeniality to improvisation and varied vocal styles mark it a folk opera.

Keywords:   Dubose Heyward, Porgy and Bess, George Gershwin, jazz opera, Charleston's blacks, folk opera

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