ROSSINI William Tell Overture

William Tell


Gioachino Rossini (Feb 1792 – Nov 1868)

Composed In



11 minutes


Piccolo, flute, 2 oboes (1 doubling a cor anglais), 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 French horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, percussions and strings


From Disney cartoons to masked heroes, Gioachino Rossini’s William Tell Overture remains as one of the most recognisable classical tunes ever known, even to this day. The piece catapulted to fame in modern culture when Disney adopted it as one of the soundtracks for the animated short film, The Band Concert, where Mickey Mouse conducts the orchestra albeit the various distractions and the mishaps of musical instruments.


About the Composition


William Tell was a Swiss folk hero and fighter for Swiss independence from Austria. Despite his actual existence being debated by many historians, his importance in Swiss folklore and national identity is unquestioned as he was found in many Swiss artworks and statues. According to legend, Tell was a 14th-century farmer with remarkable skills in archery.

The overture was composed to reflect the daily life of the rebellion in Switzerland. The prelude, Dawn, opens with a slow, mournful solo passage for cello. Gradually, the theme introduced by the cello builds and expands, accelerating restlessly to suggest a brewing storm. Soon, torrents of winds and strings, as well as thunderous percussion, move the piece into the second part, implying a furious “Storm”.

Gioachino Rossini

Fun Facts about the Composer

  • Nicknamed Monsieur Crescendo due to his perceived overuse of crescendo for dramatic effects
  • He achieved greater success compared with Mozart and Beethoven, who struggled in making a living through their music.
  • When composing the opera Signor Bruschino (1813) on his bed, a score sheet fell onto the floor. Instead of picking it up, he rewrote the entire page, and thus, creating a new passage.
  • His premiere of The Barber of Seville was a disaster, with a player’s guitar falling out of tune continuously. There was even a cat walking across the stage.
  • At the early age of 37, Rossini put an abrupt end to his career and settled into retirement because he was done with operas.

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