Peter and The Wolf

By Sergei Prokofiev
Composed in 1936

Perhaps the most famous children’s work ever written, Peter and The Wolf was composed by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936 as a way of introducing children to the instruments of the orchestra.

It opens with Peter, a brave little boy (played by the strings), going out into the meadow and observing a bird (the flute) and a duck (the oboe). The bird and the duck begin talking and then quarreling. A cat (the clarinet) comes along and tries to catch the bird, which flies away. Grandfather (the bassoon) appears and is angry that Peter is in the meadow. It’s dangerous out there; if a wolf should come along, what would Peter do then? Although Peter says he is not afraid, Grandfather takes Peter back home and locks the gate. Sure enough, an enormous wolf (three French horns) suddenly appears; the wolf then chases, catches and swallows the duck.

But Peter, with the help of the bird, manages to trap the wolf with a lasso. The hunters, who had been tracking the wolf, appear and help Peter take the trapped wolf to the zoo. Peter, the hunters, the wolf, grandfather, the cat and the bird then join in the triumphal procession. Even the duck’s quacking is heard, because the wolf had been in such a hurry that he had swallowed the duck alive!