For Teachers

"Finale" to the William Tell Overture

By Gioachino Rossini

The Composer

Gioachino Rossini
Gioachino Rossini - image from Wikipedia Commons

Gioachino Antonio Rossini was an Italian composer born in 1792. He wrote sacred music, chamber music, songs, and some instrumental and piano pieces, but was most famous for writing operas. Rossini wrote around 40 operas during his life and was considered the most popular opera composer of his time.  [source]  His most famous operas include the Italian comedy The Barber of Seville (Il barbiere di Siviglia), and the French drama William Tell (Guillaume Tell). Rossini was widely known as a lazy composer. William Tell was his last opera, written when he was only 37 years old. Rossini chose to retire at this age and became well-known for his cooking skills. He died in 1868 at the age of 76.  [source]

The Story Behind the Music

William Tell is based on the story of a Swiss hero. Legend has it that William Tell and his family lived in Switzerland during the time when Austria ruled over the land. On the 100 year anniversary of Austrian rule, the Austrian governor Gesler thought all the citizens should pay their respect to Austria and to him. He placed his hat at the top of a pole in the middle of the city and expected everyone to bow down to it as they passed.  [source]  As the story goes, William Tell and his son refused to bow to the hat and were arrested. Instead of killing William Tell and his son right there, Gesler came up with a cruel test for William Tell. William Tell was told he must take his bow and arrow and shoot an apple off his son's head. William Tell was an excellent bowman and succeeded with his first shot!  [source]

The Form

Students: Your teacher will either hand you a worksheet or a blank piece of paper to write down your answers (number your paper 1-12). Watch the video below (Part 1) and try to figure out the form of the music. Each time a number appears in the video (1-12), you are listening to a new section. Write your answer in the numbered box that matches. Use the word bank below to help you (you’ll need to use some words/letters more than once). When you are done, watch Part 2 to check your answers. See how much of the form you can figure out on your own. Good luck!

Word Bank:  Intro     Interlude     Coda     A     B     C     D

Now check your work by watching Part 2.

To see what the form would look like using the Deli Dudes, hover your mouse over the image below. (Touch screens - tap image once.)


Fun Fact:

Did you know this piece of music is one of the most recognizable classical music tunes? Many people know nothing about the original music itself, but have heard it used in movies, cartoons, and commercials. Below is a list of video links. Can you recognize the William Tell tune in each video?

*YouTube videos linked below are viewed through the Safe Share website. Always ask a parent for permission before viewing videos online.

  • The Lone Ranger - This popular TV show from the 1950's uses the William Tell Overture as its theme song.
  • Mickey Mouse: The Band Concert - This classic cartoon uses music from the whole overture (not just the Finale) and meshes it with other songs.
  • The Flintstones: Happy Anniversary - Another classic cartoon; this one takes the A section and adds lyrics to it.
  • 2008 Honda Civic Commercial - Honda paid for a stretch of road outside of Lancaster, CA to be turned into a musical attraction. Grooves were cut into the road at specific distances to create a rumble strip that plays the A section of the William Tell Overture when cars drive over it. It's a little out of tune, but still pretty neat.

Music showcased in videos above courtesy of YouTube Audio Library (William Tell Overture & Talkies).