Sotheby's to Auction Off Gershwin-Autographed Porgy and Bess Manuscript

Classic Arts News   Sotheby's to Auction Off Gershwin-Autographed Porgy and Bess Manuscript
Bidding will start June 7 for a signed copy of the composer's sketch-leaf to the song "Leavin' For De Promise Lan'."
Nmon Ford and Nicole Cabell Tristram Kenton

A manuscript of the Porgy and Bess song “Leavin’ For De Promise Lan,’” signed by George Gershwin, will be auctioned online through Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts starting June 7.

The sketch-leaf is a solo by Bess at the final part of Act One, Scene Two, which eventually turns into a company number.

“Leavin’ For De Promise Lan’” Manuscript Page_HR
Courtesy Sotheby’s

Shortly after Serena's husband, Robbins, is murdered by Bess' ex-lover, Crown, Bess finds herself in Catfish Row. She urges the residents to travel to the Promise Land, singing, "Oh the train is at the station an' you better get on board."

The manuscript is four pages long and is one of the most substantive known to exist from the opera.

Porgy and Bess is written by George and Ira Gerswhin along with original novelist DuBose Heyward. Notable recent productions include a Broadway adaptation starring Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis in 2012 and the English National Opera’s staging last year, which will cross the pond to open the Metropolitan Opera's 2019–2020 season this fall.

READ: Porgy and Bess, an Anna Netrebko Puccini Triple Bill, More Set for Metropolitan Opera’s 2019–2020 Season

The auction will continue through June 21, with the manuscript estimated to sell for $25,000–$35,000. For more information, visit

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