Peter and the wolf, the music

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham: Peter and the Wolf Linocut by James Mayhew


In this brilliant story, by the the composer Serge Prokofiev, each character is played by an instrument so we can hear and identify the different sounds made by an orchestra. The bird is represented by a flute, the duck by an oboe, the cat by a clarinet, grandfather by a bassoon, the wolf by three horns, Peter by the string quartet, and the shooting of the hunters by the kettle drums and bass drum.

While his Grandfather is snoozing, Peter goes off to play in the big green meadow beyond the safety of his garden. He soon makes friends with a bird, a duck, and then with a cat. But the cat is more interested in trying to eat the two birds!

Soon Grandfather appears. He is angry that Peter has gone out on his own. Peter has been told not to, for there are wolves beyond the meadow in the forest. But boys like Peter are not afraid of wolves! Nevertheless, Grandfather takes Peter home.

As it happens, a big grey wolf does come out of the forest, and chases and eats the duck. The cat and the bird manage to escape to the safety of the tree, and the wolf watches them, greedily. Peter sees all of this and comes to their rescue, hurrying from the house along the top of a high garden wall. He uses a branch to climb the tree and lassos the wolf by the tail.

Hunters who were chasing the wolf then appear and take the beast off to the zoo — to the surprise of Grandfather!