SIGNED BY GEORGE AND IRA GERSHWIN
GERSHWIN, George and Ira. Typed contract signed. [New York], circa 1935. Single sheet of onion-skin paper, measuring 8-1/4 by 13 inches; p. 1. $12,000.
Important mimeographed contract leasing Porgy and Bess rights to Europe, signed by author DuBose Hayward, Theatre Guild representative Warren P. Munsell, and composers George and Ira Gershwin. The Sang copy.
This contract leases the rights to Porgy and Bess to the International Play Bureau n Great Britain and on the Continent in exchange for 8% weekly box office royalties later increasing to 10%. Interestingly, the author's royalties (75% of the total) are distributed unequally, with George Gershwin securing 50%, DuBose Heyward securing 40%, and Ira Gershwin securing just 10%.
Due to his untimely death in 1937, George Gershwin did not live to see a European production of Porgy and Bess. However, he likely would have been horrified to know that the first European production was staged in Copenhagen in 1943—during the Nazi occupation—with an all-white cast performing in blackface. The Nazis forced the production to close after just 22 performances. Interestingly, this did not stop the blackface trend. As late as 1950, major European productions continued to be performed in blackface. The opera has since become a festival and concert hall staple, nearly always performed with greater racial consciousness. From the celebrated Elsie O. and Philip D. Sang collection of Americana, one of the most impressive libraries of Americana assembled in the 20th century. Pencil file notations to top margin including: "150. file Heyward Old Contract re P&B." Tiny red pen notation to bottom margin: "112a." Red line under "signatories" in contract.
Two small marginal chips, a few small closed marginal tears, faint folding creases. Extremely good condition, most desirable signed by George and Ira Gershwin.