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Portrait of George Gershwin, Mar. 28, 1937.
Portrait of composer George Gershwin from 1937

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George Gershwin Completes the Score for Porgy and Bess
September 2, 1935

Gershwin went to Folly Island off the coast of South Carolina to observe the customs of the local people and listen to their music. He joined in their "shouting," creating rhythms with his hands and feet as accompaniment to the spirituals.

Porgy and Bess premiered in New York in 1935 to good reviews, and the opera received more attention in Europe and the Soviet Union. Gershwin's entire score, however, was not heard on an American stage again until 1976. Songs from the opera, such as "Summertime," have become familiar tunes. You may have already heard one or two of them.

Summertime...and the living is easy.
Fish are jumping, and the cotton is high.
Your daddy's rich... And your mamma's good-lookin'
So hush little baby, don't you cry.

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