Rossini’s 39th (and last) opera recounts the tale of the legendary Swiss hero, William Tell, during the time of the Swiss fight for independence from the Austrian Hapsburgs in the 14th century. In the overture Rossini presents a musical picture of life in the Swiss Alps (where the opera is set) and is in four parts, each depicting a different scene: Prelude (Dawn), Storm, Ranz des Vaches (Call to the Cows) and the Finale, often called the March of the Swiss Soldiers.
Immediately following on from the reverie of the previous section the Finale (arranged here) starts with an abrupt fanfare announcing the approaching Swiss army – from which point the music literally gallops off! For generations this final section of the overture has been inseparably associated with the excitement and heroism of the wild west as it was used as the theme to The Lone Ranger radio and TV series. It has been utilised in various guises ever since in popular culture to denote galloping horses, a race, or a hero riding to the rescue and is frequently heard in adverts, at sports events, in Disney cartoons and in films (including during a fast motion orgy scene in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange)! Hi-ho, Silver, away!