Better known as the Lone Ranger theme song, this was composed by Gioacchino Rossini for his six-hour long opera based on the life and times of Romantic hero William Tell (incidentally his final opera.)

The overture is arranged as a tone poem, containing four discrete sections: dawn in the mountains, a thunderstorm, the pastoral countryside and the triumphant return of the Swiss troops.

Also fondly remembered as the in-out music from A Clockwork Orange.

One of the great comedy singles of all time is the murdering of the William Tell Overture by Spike Jones and his City Slickers. In the 1940s this crazy band did parodies of many pieces, with other hits including takes on Carmen and I Pagliacci.

Get it on the modern compilation album Spike Jones is Murdering the Classics, or download it at http://www.spikejones.net/jones.html

Their William Tell Overture goes for just over three minutes, with the first minute being the familiar pastoral Ranz des Vaches augmented by cowbells, birds tweeting, car horns, garbage bin lids, and gargling, all in tune. More or less.

Then the chase, the Lone Ranger theme part of it, quickly turns into a horse race starting-call (not part of Rossini's original), with spoken commentary on the race by Doodles Weaver, one of the City Slickers. There are three salient features of his insane commenentary:

  • The progressive hysterical excitement of the traditonal race caller as the race, played to the chase theme of the overture, goes on. At the end he starts describing Joe Louis slugging this way and that way, then hair being torn, hair all over the ring. Whose hair is it? - It's mine!
  • The way the race caller suddenly breaks up into high-pitched yukking when the disposition of the horses makes a pun: "...and Cabbage is second by a head (Cabbage by a head!!!)..."; or "...and Banana is coming up through the bunch (Banana coming up through the bunch!!!)...".
  • The lonely horse always trailing near the far end, with the caller giving its name in a slow, lugubrious tone: "and at twenty to one, Feitlebaum...", naming the various horses at the front, then "...and Feitlebaum." As the race progresses, in last place by ten lengths is, I believe it is, yes it is... Feitlebaum.
The race gets more and more frenetic and ends in a triumphant flourish, "...and there goes the WINNNNERRR!!..."

(whinny)

...Feit-le-baum.

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