Hansel and Gretel


Peter and the Wolf
Hansel and Gretel

Benjamin Zander, conductor/narrator
New England Conservatory
Youth Philharmonic Orchestra

1. Peter and the Wolf 26:41
2. Hansel and Gretel 30:23
3. “Poohsticks” 20:19





Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel, a Fable for Narrator and Orchestra, Op. 59, is based on the classic Grimm fairy talc. The children in the original story do not lose their way in the forest, but, much more scarily, are deliberately abandoned by their starving stepmother and father. Both children-especially Gretel-triumph as the heroes of their perilous adventure.

This piece, written in August 2001, was commissioned and designed to introduce the instruments of the orchestra to children under the age of twelve. As the narrator tells us, various instruments represent the characters of the story. The French horns play the father’s music, the stepmother is played on a muted trumpet, Gretel is represented by the violin and Hansel by the cello. Three friendly animals are heard in the woodwinds: with a tip of the hat to Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, their cat is played by the clarinet, the bird is played by a flute, and the duck by the oboe. The wicked witch is heard on the xylophone.

In addition certain elements of the story are painted by the music. For example, the jewels the children find shine in the orchestra. The evil step-mother and the witch share the interval of a tritone, and both have similar motives drawn from a half diminished seventh chord. The father’s music centers around c minor, and the music for Hansel and Gretel is closely related to G major.

Hansel and Gretel, finished in August 2001, was commissioned by New England Conservatory Preparatory School, Mark Churchill, Dean. It was written with the instrumentation of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and with its conductor, Benjamin Zander, in mind. They gave the world premiere at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, November 3, 2002. I also arranged the work as a Suite for Piano, Op. 65, for intermediate piano students.

-Larry Bell Hansel and Gretel is published by Casa Rustica Publications (BMI) ©2001 Larry Bell


Purchase online: