I have noticed recently, take this piece for example, The Thieving Magpie Overture by Rossini. There seems to be several versions in different keys. Why are versions made that are different to the original key?

From a transposition view, I can understand, especially with vocal lines. A Mezzo may not be able to reach the high Soprano notes. Instruments too, we have all heard of the Trumpet in b for example, but the instruments will remain the same won’t they?

However for pure orchestral, instrumental scores. Why tamper with the original brilliance? See I’m super confused because doesn’t this also adjust its general tone? If something is in a different key it will sound different, no? Even if it’s infinitesimal.

1 Answer 1


The 'Thieving Magpie' overture was written in E major. I don't think a professional orchestra would contemplate changing this.

But it's a popular piece, and many arrangements have been published. Here's one for school orchestra, in D. This MIGHT be considered easier for the strings, it certainly protects the B♭ trumpets and clarinets from a 6-sharps key signature.


This version for concert band puts it up into F.


I think I've seen a version for brass band that accepts the challenge of the original key!

Either way, the differences in instrumentation will far outweigh any psychological difference in departing from the original key.


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