Music by Gioacchino Rossini
Date 1829
Source Guillaume Tell (opera)
Publisher public domain

The "William Tell Overture" was written as the orchestral introduction to Gioacchino Rossini's opera William Tell (Guillaume Tell in its original French). Although the opera is no longer regularly performed, the overture has become a part of popular culture, having been used in Mickey Mouse and Looney Tunes cartoons, and as the theme to The Lone Ranger radio and television series since 1933.


  • The "William Tell Overture" was performed by a Muppet band on episode 320 of The Muppet Show. Beauregard stood against the stage's proscenium after explaining that he was in the number to Sam the Eagle. At the end of the piece, the double bass player used the strings of his instrument as an archer's bow to shoot the bass's bow across the stage. The projectile then pierced an apple situated on Beauregard's head, in a reference to the Swiss legend of William Tell on which the overture's opera was based.
  • A chorus of chickens clucked the "William Tell Overture" as Gonzo performed a waterskiing stunt at the aquacade in The Muppets Take Manhattan.
  • The slower introduction to the piece (often used to underscore morning scenes in movies and cartoons) is set to lyrics in the Muppet Babies episode "Sing a Song of Superheroes" as the babies trudge through the desert looking for water.
  • Later in the same episode, Baby Gonzo (as Batboy) sings the more upbeat part of the song as an overture to save the babies in the desert in his Batmobile.
  • The song was one of many overtures encountered by Grover in the book and tape set Grover's Overtures.
  • After theorizing their mysterious Japanese helper might be The Lone Ranger, in Big Bird in Japan, Big Bird goes to sleep to a modified version of the Overture.
  • The song accompanied a Plaza Sésamo film of kids picking up trash on a shoreline. (EKA: Episodio 828)

Album Releases


  • The father and son team of William and Walter Tell appeared on episode 307 of The Muppet Show, where they attempted their arrow through the apple act. The Overture, however, was not played.
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