Catfish Row: Suite from Porgy and Bess

Catfish-Row

Premiered at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia, on January 21, 1936.  Philadelphia Orchestra, Alexander Smallens (conductor).

During the original run of PORGY AND BESS in 1935, George Gershwin contemplated a method of prolonging the life of the work he held so close to his heart.  His solution was the creation of this orchestral suite, which synthesized the original score into five movements.  The work was performed at a number of concerts Gershwin conducted in 1936 and 1937; upon his death, the suite unexpectedly disappeared from the repertoire of American orchestras, to be replaced by the SYMPHONIC PICTURE prepared by Gershwin’s friend, Robert Russell Bennett.  It was only in 1958 that George’s original manuscript was discovered in Ira’s house and brought forth again, with Ira retitling it CATFISH ROW.  It has now joined the Bennett piece as a popular method of bringing the music of PORGY AND BESS into the concert hall.