Porgy and Bess

From Wind Repertory Project
George Gershwin

George Gershwin (arr. James Barnes)

Subtitle: An Overture on Themes from the American Musical Masterpiece

General Info

Year: 1928 / 1998
Duration: c. 8:20
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Alfred Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $95.00   |   Score Only - $9.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II-III
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contra Alto Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III-IV
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Claves
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Gong
  • Maracas
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The music from this timeless masterwork has fascinated generation after generation. Oddly enough, at its premiere the critics presented mixed reaction, some calling it the pioneering work of a new folk-opera genre, and others condemning it as merely a succession of hit songs. Fortunately, time has secured its place in history. James Barnes has skillfully crafted a wonderful scoring of I Got Plenty O' Nuttin', It Ain't Necessarily So, Summertime, Crab Man, and Bess, You Is My Woman Now.

- Program Note from publisher

In the 1920s, George Gershwin had an ambition to compose an American opera. In 1926, he read a powerful novel by an upper-class white South Carolinian, DuBose Heyward, called Porgy. Written the previous year, it was a series of vignettes of life in a black Charleston ghetto called Catfish Row, where a cripple named Porgy falls blindly in love with a woman named Bess, whose inconsistent affections both torment and inflame him. Bess is torn between the rough men of Catfish Row, like Crown, who offers her a more glamorous life, and Porgy, who can only offer his pure devotion. Eventually, Bess is lured to New York by Sportin’ Life, a gambler and drug dealer, and Porgy begins a journey to find her.

Having found the source material he was looking for, Gershwin took many years and constant negotiations to put together what he defined as a “folk tale.” By 1933, Heyward and George’s brother, Ira, were on board to collaborate on the lyrics. George went to South Carolina to study the native culture and absorbed much of into his opera.

Porgy and Bess opened to mixed reviews, and a disappointingly short run, huge for an opera but meager for a Broadway show. Porgy and Bess was first performed on October 10, 1935, at the Alvin Theater in New York City.

- Program Note from Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Cobb Wind Symphony (Marietta, Ga.) (Alfred L. Watkins, conductor) - 12 November 2023
  • North County Winds (Solana Beach, Calif.) (Vince Hernandez, conductor) - 26 February 2023
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla) Wind Symphony (David Samson, conductor) - 25 September 2022
  • Eastern Illinois University (Charleston) Wind Symphony (Alicia Neal, conductor) - 18 September 2020
  • Catskill Valley Wind Ensemble (Oneonta, N.Y.) (Scott Rabeler, conductor) – 26 January 2020
  • University of Kentucky (Lexington) Symphony Band (George Boulden, conductor) – 15 September 2019
  • Irish Youth Wind Ensemble (Dublin) (Ronan O'Reilly, conductor) – 27 July 2019
  • Gold Coast Wind Ensemble (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) (Michael Doty, conductor) – 19 January 2019
  • Southeastern University (Lakeland, Fla.) Wind Ensemble (William L. Lake, Jr., conductor) - 25 October 2018
  • Austin (Texas) Symphonic Band (Richard Floyd, conductor) - 19 February 2018
  • Contra Costa Wind Symphony (Walnut Creek, Calif.) (Brad Hogarth, conductor) – 21 May 2017
  • Nicholls State University Symphonic Band (Jason S. Ladd, conductor) - 26 April 2016
  • University of North Carolina, Greensboro, University Band (William L. Lake, Jr., conductor) – 18 November 2015
  • San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra (Jennifer Martin, conductor) – 27 September 2015
  • Minnesota State Band (Saint Paul) (Charles Boody, conductor) - 3 December 2014
  • Rochester New Horizons Symphonic Band (Bruce Burritt, conductor) - May 2014

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works