1829: Rossini: William Tell Overture

FRIDAY, November 13, 2020 – 5:35 AM

(This music has been insanely popular from the moment it was written. The whole story of Rossini and his amazing success is a story for another time, but the world loved his music.)

William Tell Overture, age 37

(Also known as the Lone Ranger Theme)

Valery Abisalovich Gergiev


  • piccolo, a flute, two oboes (first or second oboe doubles a cor anglais), two clarinets in A, two bassoons
  • four French horns in G and E, two trumpets in E, three trombones
  • timpani, triangle, bass drum and cymbals
  • strings

Final Theme

This is the part the whole world knows. It’s the “Lone Ranger” theme, and I don’t if this started only with the TV show or earlier, but that’s what we all know.

The whole overture…

And now the whole thing, from start to end, as he wrote it.

The Italian’s version of Mozart

Gioachino Rossini (29 February 1792 – 13 November 1868) He wrote 39 operas and was known as “the Italian Mozart.”

His last opera

It was the epic William Tell (Guillaume Tell), featuring its iconic overture which helped to usher in grand opera in France. The overture premiered in Paris on August 3, 1829.

Popular music

Rossini was one of the most popular opera composers in history, and opera was not high brow music for the elite. It was the most popular music of its time.

Master of the big build

He also earned the nickname “Signor Crescendo” for his use of an exciting buildup of orchestral sound over a repeated phrase, which is now commonly known as a “Rossini crescendo”.

Link to “The Lone Ranger”

It is the last part of the William Tell Overture that is used as the theme song for “The Lone Ranger”, and the whole world knows that theme.


5 thoughts on “1829: Rossini: William Tell Overture

  1. This piece is very enjoyable to listen to. Its bouncy and fast and the instrumentation really bolsters that sound. I don’t think a single person has not heard this piece before and there’s a good reason for it.

  2. I delighted in the overture, and there were at least two other spots besides the “Lone Ranger” bit that I recognized. Since I intended a 40 minute walk (cut short: too cold) I went for the whole opera. I won’t be listening to the rest. You won’t hear a trumpet or violin go out of tune, but voices it’s a toss-up. The hero tenor who seemed to slip on banana peels on his way up to notes that he slid past with dramatic bravado etc. But even if they had all sung well – interestingly, in Beethoven’s Fidelio (Leonore overture) it wasn’t just good singers: the music worked for me. This opera, what I heard of it, was like all those stereotypical “make fun of opera” things – Bugs Bunny style. I loved Rossini for the * orchestral * music. Totally carried away by the overture!

    1. Solomon, the most popular pieces of music ever written were not composed this year or in the last few years. There are many tunes you know, but you just don’t know what they are called. These are sometimes called “ear worms”, and the are melodies or music we know and can’t even forget we know. The “Lone Ranger” theme is one of those things we all know.

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