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Rossini’s William Tell Overture

GiorcesRossini1Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) was born in a small town, Pesaro, Italy on February 29, 1792. He was born to a musical family and when he was six was playing the triangle in his father’s band.  He learned to play cello and horn and sang in the church choir. When he was about 14, he wrote his first opera!

At 15, he entered a music school in Bologna, Italy where he learned to compose music. By the time he was 20, he was already known as a famous Italian opera composer.  His most famous opera, The Barber of Seville, was first performed in Rome, Italy when he was only 24 years of age and was written in only 2 weeks!

He moved to Paris and wrote thirty operas, the last of which was William Tell, the story of a Swiss folk hero who split an apple in half by shooting an arrow at it!  The opera has a very famous overture, storm scene, and a final “March of the Swiss Soldiers”. 

William Tell: Overture (1829) is the opening selection in Rossini’s final opera, William Tell.  It was a tremendous success when it premiered in Paris, but most people now have only heard the overture.  The final section of the overture, probably the most well-known music by Rossini, was made famous as the theme for the TV and movie character, the Lone Ranger.  In this most famous musical episode one can almost hear the galloping horses coming to the rescue of William Tell!

Overture: A piece played by the orchestra at the beginning of another piece like an opera, play, or a ballet. An overture is like an introduction to what you are about to see and hear. Usually, it contains melodies and rhythms that you’ll hear later.


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