Five of our Favourite Peter and the Wolf Narrations
By Celia Casey
Peter and the Wolf is a musical symphony for children composed by Sergei Prokofiev, and was designed as an introduction to orchestral music.
It is based on a story which is often narrated during the performance, with each character in the tale being represented by an instrument. This beloved classic is one of the most popular pieces of children’s music, and an array of celebrities have narrated it, including David Attenborough, Jacqueline du Pré, Bill Clinton, and Paul Hogan. Below are five of our favourite narrations which make great listening for children and adults alike!
#1. Leonard Bernstein
Although Leonard Bernstein was a talented composer, conductor, pianist, and writer, he is said to have been most proud of his achievements as an educator. His Young People’s Concerts with the New York Philharmonic aired on primetime television and inspired many young aspiring musicians. Bernstein’s passion for music and education made him an ideal narrator for Peter and the Wolf.
#2. David Bowie
British singer and actor David Bowie was the third choice for the role of narrator for record label RCA (after English actors Alec Guinness and Peter Ustinov declined the position), but he provides one of the most charming narrations of the work. Performed by Philadelphia Orchestra, the recording appears on a double-sided disc along with Tchaikovsky’s Suite from The Nutcracker and another great introduction to music for children, Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.
#3. Alice Cooper
Rock legend Alice Cooper is an enthusiastic narrator in this American version of the work – Peter and the Wolf in Hollywood. In this unique take on the classic tale, Peter travels to Los Angeles. His adventures include building a robot and, in true Hollywood style, the paparazzi even get involved!
#4. Dame Edna Everage
The familiar voice of Australia’s Dame Edna Everage, accompanied by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, makes for one of the standout recordings of this work. But don’t take it from us, the Dame herself has claimed ‘many people have done it before, I know, but this has to be the authentic performance’. Sit back and enjoy, possums!
#5. David Tennant
The soothing, Scottish tones of Doctor Who actor David Tennant provide the perfect narrative to an upbeat jazz version of Peter and the Wolf. With music performed by France’s The Amazing Keystone Big Band, this is a fresh take on the classic work, and includes hip-hop, blues, and free jazz styles.