In 1936, the director of the Moscow Children’s Musical Theater asked composer Sergei Prokofiev if he would write a musical story for children. It took Prokofiev just two weeks to finish “a symphonic tale” that introduced children to the orchestra: Peter and the Wolf.
One of the great things about music is that different people can hear different stories in the same piece. Prokofiev envisioned one tale with Peter and the Wolf, but what do you imagine when you hear the music? Take a listen and find out!
Peter and the Wolf
Get to Know the Characters in Peter and the Wolf
Peter and the Wolf is a musical story with seven characters, each of which is represented by one or more instruments:
- Peter: Strings (violin, viola, cello, double bass)
- Bird: Flute
- Cat: Clarinet
- Duck: Oboe
- Grandpa: Bassoon
- Wolf: Horn
- Hunters: Timpani and bass drum
Learn about the instruments by watching the video demonstrations in our Guide to the Orchestra and listening to the audio clips in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Instrument Guide. Then as you listen to the Peter and the Wolf playlist, consider what the music is telling you about each character. Use clues like instrument choice, tempo (speed), and dynamics (volume) to figure out what the characters are like, what they are doing, and how they feel about what is happening in the story.
Create a Story Inspired by the Music
What do you think is happening to the characters at the beginning of the story? What happens next? Eventually, how does the story end? Use our storyboard template, or make your own, to develop your version of the story.
Act Out Your Version of Peter and the Wolf
Now that you have your plot, think about how you would act out the story. Would you create a script or improvise? Could you make costumes, props, or puppets with materials found at home? Which role(s) would you give to each person in your family? Play the music again while acting out your interpretation of the story together.
Show the Minnesota Orchestra Your Storyboard
Minnesota Orchestra at Home
Find more educational activities, playlists, and at-home performances from the Minnesota Orchestra musicians on our new webpage!