In 1936 Natalya Sats commissioned Sergei Prokofiev to compose a piece for Moscow’s Central Children’s Theatre. The goal: to introduce children to the principals of the symphony. Somewhat ironically, the Orchestra went unnamed in this 1938, 3-disc RCA Victor recording.

And while the initial reaction was lukewarm, Peter and the Wolf has introduced generations of youngsters, and probably some oldsters, to the various instruments of the symphony. More than one critic has viewed the piece as allegory for Soviet and world politics of the time. After all, it can’t be a mistake that the greatest Russian folk hero is…Peter the Great. For a reading of the Wolf as the Nazi threat, click through!