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Peter and the Wolf

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Prokofiev in 1937

Peter and the Wolf is a musical composition for orchestra and narrator. It was written in 1936 by Sergei Prokofiev. The work tells the story of a little boy and a wolf.

Peter and the Wolf is a popular piece for children's concerts. The narrator is usually a celebrity or famous person. Peter has been recorded many times.

Background[edit | edit source]

In 1936, Prokofiev was invited by the Central Children's Theatre in Moscow to write a new musical composition for children. This composition was intended to develop musical taste in children at an early age. Prokofiev wrote both the words and music for Peter, and completed it in four days. Peter made its debut on 2 May 1936.

Instrumentation[edit | edit source]

Peter and the Wolf is written for the following orchestra:

  • Woodwinds: a flute, an oboe, a clarinet in A, and a bassoon
  • Brass: 3 French horns in F, a trumpet in B-flat, and a trombone
  • Percussion: timpani, a triangle, a tambourine, cymbals, castanets, a snare drum, and a bass drum
  • Strings: first and second violins, violas, violoncellos, and double basses

Each character in the story has a particular instrument and a musical theme:

  • Bird: flute
  • Duck: oboe
  • Cat: clarinet
  • Grandfather: bassoon
  • Wolf: French horns
  • Hunters: woodwind theme, with gunshots on timpani and bass drum
  • Peter: string instruments

Playing time is about 25 minutes.

Story[edit | edit source]

Peter is a little boy. He lives with his grandfather. One day, Peter opens the gate and goes into the meadow. His cat and his duck follow him. A little bird watches him.

Grandfather calls Peter to come home. He warns Peter about the wolves in the forest. Peter says little boys are not afraid of wolves. Grandfather locks the gate and goes into the house.

A wolf comes out of the forest. The cat climbs a tree, but the wolf swallows the duck. Peter finds a rope, jumps over the wall, and climbs a tree. He asks the bird to fly around the wolf's head to distract him.

Peter makes a noose in the rope. He catches the wolf by the tail. Hunters come out of the forest. They want to kill the wolf, but Peter wants to take him to the zoo. A parade led by Peter, followed by the wolf, the hunters, the cat, the bird, and Grandfather sets off for the zoo.

Video selections[edit | edit source]

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