Giacchino Rossini’s overture to his opera William Tell is an interesting piece. First, the opera itself is almost never heard anymore, due to its very long performance time and its awkward libretto (from what I’ve read–I’ve never actually heard or seen the entire thing myself). The overture is pretty much all that is ever performed of that opera, but even more interesting is that the overture’s four main sections are each distinct and as one listens to the work, the thing gets more and more familiar. The final section is one of the most famous passages of classical music ever written (owing, partly, to its use in the 20th century as the theme to various iterations of the adventures of the Lone Ranger). Before that is a pastoral segment that is almost as familiar as the finale. Before that is a stormy passage that many listeners may find passingly familiar–and starting off the overture is a slow passage for strings that I’ll wager almost no one who doesn’t regularly listen to classical music knows at all.
Here’s the William Tell overture, in a performance with the score, so if you wish you can follow along!