(William Tell in English, Wilhelm Tell in German)
Guillaume Tell – Play RTS Vidéo
Once upon a time in the village of Altdorf, there lived a proud farmer called William Tell. He lived peacefully in his village amongst the mountains until a new Habsburg sheriff, Gessler, came to rule the area. He ordered a hat to be placed on a pole in the centre of the market place and insisted that everyone who walked past kneel to his hat.
Tell refused to bow and was arrested. Gessler challenged him to shoot an apple off his son’s head with an arrow; if he was successful, he would go free. If he was not, they would both die. He drew his bow and the arrow pierced the centre of the apple. Gessler noticed that Tell had another arrow and asked him what it was for. Tell said that if he had killed his son, he would have used the second arrow to kill Gessler. This angered Gessler and he arrested him anyway and took him away on a boat to prison. On the way there was a massive storm and Gessler had to untie Tell so that he could steer the boat to safety. Once they had landed, Tell escaped and ran towards Gessler’s castle to hide. When Gessler arrived later on, Tell shot him.
Tell has become a legendary Swiss hero who symbolizes the struggle for political and individual freedom and resistance against the Habsburg emperors from Austria. This finally resulted in the Confederation of Helvetica which today we call Switzerland; “Land of the Schwyzers”. (Schwyz was one of the three original cantons that swore the oath and formed the confederation in 1291 on the Rütli. The other original cantons were Uri and Unterwalden).
5 CHF – Confoederatio Helvetica
William Tell Overture
The overture, which premiered in 1829, paints a musical picture of life in the Swiss Alps. In the US the last part is well known as the theme tune to the Lone Ranger. Have a listen and see if you can picture the different sections.
Rossini’s William Tell Overture
Prelude: Dawn breaks
Storm: There’s raging storm which slowly subsides.
Ranz des vaches: The calm after the storm with a Ranz des vaches or “Call to the Cows”,
Finale: March of the Swiss Soldiers – the Swiss soldiers’ victorious battle to liberate their homeland from Austrian repression.