By Antonia Russo
Special to the Economist
SOLON– Once again the Solon library window takes us to Russia for our holiday display. We have visited the glittering late 19th Century world of the Tsar with Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite.” Now we return to view a winter scene in Stalin’s Russia with Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.”
Far in the north, at the edge of a snowy forest– set amidst birch trees, is Grandfather’s cabin. Here, Grandfather, Peter, the little bird, the duck, wolf, and hunters perform the musical drama that has delighted children for generations.
In this symphonic fairy tale, each character is portrayed by his own instrument. Russian composers often wrote for children, and artistic training was a part of Soviet upbringing in the decades following the revolution.
In February 1936, a new “Cultural Children’s Theatre” was opened in Moscow, and the director sought music that would acquaint children with the symphony orchestra using an easily understood plot.
The famous composer Sergei Prokofiev quickly responded to the idea with a plot and music completed in just four days. The Russian title of his score, “Pioneer Petra,” reveals the ideology of the period, as Peter is a member of the Communist Youth Movement.
The music has been played, recorded and adapted countless times as a true children’s classic. In 1946, Walt Disney produced an animated version. Celebrities from Bill Clinton, Captain Kangaroo, Sean Connery, Sting and Peter Ustinov have narrated the musical tale.
The display features an arctic wolf on loan from the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, snow shoes from Mt. McKinley, Russian folk art, and instruments for each character.
Our plans for 2014 displays include “Hollywood and Vine” (movies), “Monet’s Garden” (art), “Hogwarts Potions Class,” “Whistle Stop” (railroad), “Hawkeye” (hawk diorama) and “Geppetto’s Workshop” (holiday display).
Thank you to everyone from the window display team for their help and support with all our windows. Happy holidays.