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William Tell Overture Rossini Help Opus Details
For feedback and questions, please contact Victor Gomersall.
This Overture to Rossini's opera William Tell is most well known for its boisterous finale, a horn and trumpet theme, "the cavalry charge", used in countless cowboy movies to accompany chase scenes. However, it has much more to offer the listener, with the opening being a quiet contemplative string passage with 5 cellos, a haunting pastoral English Horn tune the "ranz des vaches" or call to the cows, and exciting Rossini crescendos involving the entire orchestra. The opera's hero is a character who is said to have lived in the alpine Canton of Uri in Switzerland in the early 14th century, who was a master cross-bow shooter. He disobeyed a command by Gessler, the new and hated Austrian Habsburg official, and was punisshed by being forced to shoot an apple off his young son's head. He was promised freedom if he succeeded. He split the apple into two. However William then enraged the official once again, so was imprisoned. he later escaped, and is reputed to have started a revolution against the Austrian Empire, leading to the beginnings of the Swiss Confederation. The legend has become a patriotic point of pride for the Swiss people, even though its truth is somewhat dubious. The plot of the opera follows this legend, though in act IV it stretches it to portray William Telll killing Gessler with his crossbow during a revolutionary battle. The opera is seldom played these days, as it lasts 4 hours, and has difficult, very high tenor parts. This overture is however, an all-time hit. The opera was first performed in 1829 in Paris. Despite the fact that its composer was Italian, it was only produced once in Italy during Rossini's lifetime, because Italian authorities feared it might strir up revolution! Whereas in Vienna, Austria, it was produced around 400 times before Rossini died, despite the fact that the plot portrayed a Swiss revolutionary overcoming the Austrians!
Category: Overture Orchestra Romantic Period
Time Signature 3 /4 Key Signature   G Major Play MP3 using player below.

1    William Tell Overture starts in a calm rustic manner, with slow rising minor arpeggio on the strings.

2    The storm scene, spinning strings, with splashes from oboes and flutes, leading to a massive crescendo.

3    Pastoral scene, call to the cows (ranz des vaches). Haunting cor anglais melody, with flute imitations and obligati.

4    The famous 'Cavalry Charge' tune, on strings, trumpets and horns.
 No score for this tune is available yet.
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