Catfish Row

From Wind Repertory Project
George Gershwin

George Gershwin (arr. Donald Hunsberger)

Subtitle: Symphonic Suite Based on Porgy and Bess

General Info

Year: 1934 / 2000
Duration: c. 28:30
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Alfred Publishing Co., Inc.
Cost: Score and Parts (print) – Rental   |   Score Only (print) - $75.00


1. Introduction – 3:50
2. Summertime – 3:15
3. I Got Plenty of Nuttin' – 1:25
4. Bess, You Is My Woman Now – 4:35
5. Fugue – 1:52
6. It Ain't Necessarily So – 3:20
7. Hurricane – 3:15
8. My Man's Gone Now – 4:30
9. Finale: O Lawd, I'm on My Way – 2:30


Full Score
Solo Soprano Voice
Solo Baritone Voice
Flute I-II-III-IV (IV doubling Piccolo)
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxohpone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
B-flat Flugelhorn
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III-IV
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbal
  • Drum Set
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tom-tom
  • Tubular Bells
  • Vibraphone
  • Woodblock
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This collection has been created to provide contemporary wind band conductors with a complete concert selection featuring some of the major vocal arias of Porgy and Bess along with outstanding instrumental selections. Catfish Row may be performed as individual movements with, or without, baritone and soprano vocal soloists. This extensive medley features Summertime, I Got Plenty of Nuttin', Bess, You Is My Woman Now, It Ain't Necessarily So, and My Man's Gone Now.

- Program Note from publisher

Porgy and Bess is an English-language opera composed in 1934 by George Gershwin, with a libretto written by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin from Heyward's novel Porgy and later play of the same title. Porgy and Bess was first performed in Boston on September 30, 1935, and featured an entire cast of classically trained African-American singers - a daring artistic choice at the time. After suffering from an initially unpopular public reception due in part to its racially charged theme, the Houston Grand Opera production of the opera in 1976 gained it new popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed operas.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

In the years between 1924 and 1934, Gershwin wrote some of his most enduring works, including Rhapsody in Blue (1924), Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra (1925), An American in Paris (1928), the Second Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra (1932), Cuban Overture (1932), and Variations on “I Got Rhythm” for piano and orchestra (1934). During this time, he frequently expressed a desire to compose an opera since he felt that vocal writing was one of his strongest compositional attributes.

In 1927, the New York Theatre Guild produced the play Porgy, based upon a novel of the same name by DuBose Heyward. Gershwin had been given the book by friends the preceding year and grew increasingly interested in its story of a crippled black beggar in Charleston, South Carolina, and his life in the poor, rundown section of the city.

Gershwin began composing Porgy and Bess in 1932, in collaboration with Heyward and with his brother Ira Gershwin, who actually cast the text into a form George could set to music. A Boston preview of the completed work was enthusiastically received, with Serge Koussevitsky calling it “a great advance in American opera.” However, a New York run did not fare well, and a decision was made to create a company tour to help control production costs. As a means of introducing the opera to local audiences in Philadelphia -- prior to the actual production opening there -- Gershwin assembled an orchestral suite from his opera score. In preparing the suite, he extracted five sections and bridged them skillfully into a compendium of the opera’s music, including many instrumental passages that had been jettisoned in Boston. The result is a well-balanced piece -- more than just a collage of the opera’s most popular songs — as he placed the music almost identically in the order that it appears in the opera. Thus, musical interest and development does not depend on any knowledge of the plot.

The suite was performed numerous times, with Gershwin conducting, prior to his death. It then lay unnoticed until Ira reintroduced it in the 1950s with the title Catfish Row, a move to separate and identify it from the Symphonic Suite, published in 1941 by Robert Russell Bennett. In this edition for wind ensemble, by Donald Hunsberger, the original voice assignments have been restored. (Gershwin, in creating his original suite, had transferred all vocal lines into solo and sectional orchestral timbres.)

- Program Note from liner notes of University of Missouri Wind Ensemble Naxos CD In This Hid Clearing...


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Arkansas Tech University (Russellville) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Daniel A. Belongia, conductor; Cherisse Williams, soprano; Christopher Harris, baritone) - 2 October 2022
  • James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.) Wind Symphony (Stephen Bolstad, conductor; Sonya Bakker, soprano; Michael Richardson, baritone) – 3 October 2019
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Band (Shawn Vondran, conductor) – 7 June 2019
  • Michigan State University (East Lansing) Wind Symphony (Kevin Sedatole, conductor; Michelle Johnson, soprano; Brian Major, baritone) – 25 April 2019
  • Oklahoma State University (Stillwater) Wind Ensemble (Joseph Missal, conductor) – 8 November 2018
  • Los Angeles (Calif.) Symphonic Winds (Stephen P. Piazza, conductor; Courtney Marsh, soprano; Michael Armstrong, piano) – 11 February 2018
  • University of Texas (Austin) Wind Ensemble (Jerry Junkin, conductor; Gloria Quinlan, soprano; Donnie Ray Albert, baritone) – 29 October 2017
  • Dallas (Tex.) Winds (Jerry Junkin, conductor) – 14 February 2017
  • Eastman Wind Ensemble (Rochester, N.Y.) (Donald Hunsberger, conductor; Nicole Cabell, soprano) – 21 December 2000 (2000 Midwest Clinic)

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Gershwin, G.; Hunsberger, D. (2000). Catfish Row: Symphonic Suite Based on Porgy and Bess [score]. WB Music: Miami, Fla.
  • Hunsberger, D. "Catfish Row". WindWorks: A Journal of the Contemporary Wind Band Issue 4, Fall 2000, pp. 22-23.
  • Porgy and Bess, Wikipedia Accessed 13 February 2017