67, a ‘symphonic fairy tale for children’, is a musical composition written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936. The narrator dialogue in French for children at the zoo a children’s story, while the orchestra illustrates it.
In 1936, Sergei Prokofiev was commissioned by Natalya Sats, the director of the Central Children’s Theatre in Moscow, to write a musical symphony for children. Sats and Prokofiev had become acquainted after he visited her theatre with his sons several times. Peter, a Young Pioneer, lives at his grandfather’s home in a forest clearing. One day, Peter goes out into the clearing, leaving the garden gate open, and the duck that lives in the yard takes the opportunity to go swimming in a pond nearby.
Suppose a wolf came out of the forest? Boys like me are not afraid of wolves”, his grandfather takes him back into the house and locks the gate. Soon afterwards “a big, grey wolf” does indeed come out of the forest. The cat quickly climbs into a tree, but the duck, who has jumped out of the pond, is chased, overtaken, and swallowed by the wolf.
Peter fetches a rope and climbs over the garden wall into the tree. He asks the bird to fly around the wolf’s head to distract it, while he lowers a noose and catches the wolf by its tail. The wolf struggles to get free, but Peter ties the rope to the tree and the noose only gets tighter. What if Peter hadn’t caught the wolf? In the story’s ending, the listener is told: “If you listen very carefully, you’ll hear the duck quacking inside the wolf’s belly, because the wolf in his hurry had swallowed her alive. Prokofiev produced detailed performance notes in both English and Russian for Peter and the Wolf. Each character of this tale is represented by a corresponding instrument in the orchestra: the bird by a flute, the duck by an oboe, the cat by a clarinet playing staccato in a low register, the grandfather by a bassoon, the wolf by three horns, Peter by the string quartet, the shooting of the hunters by the kettle drums and bass drum.
A performance lasts about 25 minutes. Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Mark Stephenson. This recording has never been released commercially, but is only available via the WSO’s website or at the WSO’s gift shop. Hart was in her “Clarissa” persona from the Nickelodeon television series Clarissa Explains It All. This was used as the soundtrack to the television special Peter and the Wolf: A Prokofiev Fantasy.
The narrators were the son and grandson of the composer. Sir John’s royalties for this recording were donated to The League of Friends of Charity Heritage, a facility for physically handicapped children. It retained the traditional plot but transferred the locale to the Australian Outback. This recording was withdrawn soon after its release because of unflattering portrayals of Australia’s aboriginal people and is now considered “out of print”. Bowie’s recording reached number 136 on the US Pop Albums chart.
In this version, the story is reformulated as a gangster tale in the style of the Hollywood films that Raft had once acted in. Volume 5 of The World of the Great Classics series. This version is praised in various editions of The Stereo Record Guide as the finest recording and narration of the work ever made. Prokofiev, while touring the West in 1938, visited Los Angeles and met Walt Disney. Prokofiev performed the piano version of Peter and the Wolf for “le papa de Mickey Mouse”, as Prokofiev described him in a letter to his sons. During the character introduction, the pets are given names: “Sasha” the bird, “Sonia” the duck, and “Ivan” the cat. As the cartoon begins, Peter and his friends already know there is a wolf nearby and are preparing to catch him.