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Porgy and Bess Title Page
Gershwin's signature on the completed score of Porgy and Bess

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

When was the last time you did something so wonderful, you surprised yourself? George Gershwin signed his name to the completed opera score for Porgy and Bess on September 2, 1935. Gershwin wrote many popular songs, but of Porgy and Bess, he said, "I think the music is so marvelous, I don't believe I wrote it."

Porgy and Bess was based on the book Porgy by Dubose Heyward (who also worked on the opera) about the African American "Gullah" culture of South Carolina. Gershwin knew that before he could write the music to Porgy and Bess, he would need to learn something about the "Gullah" people, descendants of former slaves who speak a unique language that is a combination of English and West African words.

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