Orchestral "kiddie concerts" would have been a lot different over the past 75 years if, back in 1936, Sergei Prokofiev hadn't written a work in the space of a few weeks, about a plucky little Young Pioneer and the various animals in his neighborhood. That work is, of course, Петя и волк (Petya i volk in Romanized Cyrillic). The work is so popular and ubiquitous, in concert halls, on recordings, and even the odd TV appearance, that it's a bit of a surprise to learn that Peter and the Wolf wasn't a total success at its first performance on May 2, 1936, in Moscow at the Children's Theater. The reason why is because.....
.....the originally scheduled narrator and commissioner of the work, Natalya Sats (or Satz) of the Moscow Children's Musical Theater, became ill shortly before the premiere. A substitute narrator, one T. Bobrova (Google searching didn't reveal much, just that name), filled in, and apparently it didn't go that great. However, after Sats recovered soon after, another performance with her as the narrator went much, much better. The work took off in popularity not before long, and hasn't stopped since.
You all know that various instruments in the orchestra represent various characters:
(a) Peter: string orchestra
(b) The bird: flute
(c) The duck: oboe
(d) The cat: clarinet
(e) Grandfather: bassoon
(f) Wolf: 3 French horns
(g) Hunters: woodwind ensemble, with timpani and bass drum providing gunshots
Some video samples (yup, they're old Disney, sorry) include:
Interestingly, even though Peter and the Wolf is so popular, I've only heard it live twice. (Never having been married and having no family, with no prospect of either changing, are reasons not to hear the work at an orchestral kiddie concert, but 3CM the loser digresses, as usual.) The first time that I heard it live was in college, with the university orchestra and the director of the campus glee club as the narrator.
The second was rather different, because it was in Dresden, Germany, with the Dresden Philharmonic. Yes, 3CM heard Peter and the Wolf, live, narrated in German, a language I'd never studied in high school or anywhere else. However, that wasn't nearly as troublesome as might have proved. This is because I'd heard Peter and the Wolf so often on recordings (and once on TV), I basically knew the story by heart, and with any single bar of the music, I knew the point to which the narrative had progressed. The only catch was at the very end, right before the final parade, where the narrator used the phrase "die Moral von diese Geschichte", or "the moral of this story", and I had no idea what he said for the "moral of this story". So I can't say what the "punchline" was from that particular narration.
However, speaking of "morals of the story", Harlow Robinson, professor of music at Northeastern University and the author of a 1987 biography of Prokofiev, commented in his book about Peter and the Wolf:
"If the story has a moral, it seems to be this: don't be afraid to challenge established beliefs (Grandfather's caution) or to take risks. It is Peter's independence, shrewdness and courage that save the day; if he hadn’t disobeyed his grandfather by climbing over the wall, the wolf would never have been caught. Seen in this light, Peter and the Wolf is a subtly subversive tract, encouraging children to rely on their wits and not on the greater experience (and inertia) of their elders."
Citation: Harlow Robinson, Sergei Prokofiev: A Biography. New York: Viking Penguin (1987), p. 322.
(Yes, 3CM has an autographed copy of that book.)
So, something for your Memorial Day weekend, a diary that has absolutely nothing to do with the holiday. With that, 'tis time for the usual SNLC protocol, namely your loser stories of the week.....