When Bowie went Classical: Peter and the Wolf

In 1978, at the height of David Bowie‘s most experimental period, he made a very classical choice – to narrate the story of Peter and the Wolf.  The album, which was released on RCA Records that same year, featured music performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Ormandy, along with Bowie’s spoken words.  It was quite the departure from what it was he was doing in Berlin at the time (creating some of the first electro pop sounds with Brian Eno and Robert Fripp), but Bowie was and is just so cool he could do it all.  Plus, he chose to be a part of the project as a gift for his son Zowie Bowie (now known as Duncan Jones) who was 7 years old at the time.

Originally composed in 1936, Peter and the Wolf famously uses personified instruments in the orchestra to tell the story — also penned by the composer, Sergei Prokofiev — of young Peter and his animal friends the Duck, the Bird, and even a mischievous Cat (represented by an oboe, flute, and clarinet respectively). Peter, himself represented by the string section, becomes an unsuspecting hero and outwits the Wolf (French horns), who’s intent on menacing his small Russian village — not to mention Peter’s beloved animal friends.  It is a beautiful piece of music, that tells a wonderful story, and provides a pretty unique introduction to classical music for any child, and a pretty lovely listening experience for any adult.


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