Rossini – Overture to William Tell – Music | History
The William Tell Overture is the overture to the opera William Tell (original French title Guillaume Tell), whose music was composed by Gioachino Rossini. William Tell premiered in 1829 and was the last of Rossini’s 39 operas, after which he went into semi-retirement (he continued to compose cantatas, sacred music and secular vocal music). The overture is in four parts, each following without pause.
There has been repeated use (and sometimes parody) of parts of this overture in both classical music and popular media. It was the theme music for The Lone Ranger in radio, television and film. Two different parts were also used as theme music for the British television series The Adventures of William Tell, the fourth part (popularly identified in the US with The Lone Ranger) in the UK, and the third part, rearranged as a stirring march, in the US.
Franz Liszt prepared a piano transcription of the overture in 1838 (S.552) which became a staple of his concert repertoire. There are also transcriptions by other composers, including versions by Louis Gottschalk for two and four pianos and a duet for piano and violin.