toccata


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toccata

(təkä`tə, tō–) [Ital.,=touched], type of musical composition. Early examples were written for various instruments, but the best-known form of toccata originated about the beginning of the 17th cent. Free in form, it was one of the first attempts at idiomatic writing for keyboard instruments, in contrast to the strictly contrapuntal pieces of the Renaissance. The toccata was usually rhapsodic, often interspersing rapid passages of brilliant figuration with fugal sections. Andrea Gabrieli, Frescobaldi, Sweelinck, Froberger, Buxtehude, and Bach were outstanding masters of the toccata style. Schumann wrote a toccata for piano in sonata form. As a brilliant showpiece the toccata persists today in organ composition.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Toccata

 

a virtuoso composition for a keyboard instrument, such as piano or organ, characterized by a quick tempo and rhythmic precision and calling for chords to be attacked sharply. Examples of piano toccatas may be found in the works of R. Schumann, F. Mendelssohn, C. Debussy, M. Ravel, S. S. Prokofiev, A. I. Khachaturian, and D. D. Shostakovich. From the 16th to the 18th century, organ toccatas were improvisational in nature and related to the prelude and fantasia. They usually formed the introduction to an instrumental cycle, as in J. S. Bach’s toccata and fugue cycles.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

toccata

a rapid keyboard composition for organ, harpsichord, etc., dating from the baroque period, usually in a rhythmically free style
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The present volume 1 contains twenty-five short preludial and contrapuntal compositions (toccatas, canzonas, and ricercars).
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Favorite cuts would be the opener, "Asturias - "Leyenda" by Isaac Albeniz, the aforementioned Bach, "Toccata & Fugue in D Minor" and the fantastic, "Fantasia Original" by Jose' Vinas.
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Bishop's talents shone through in Whitlock's Plymouth Suite, where a sparkling Toccata was accompanied by typically wistful interpretations of Lantana and Salix.
The style transmitted by Sweelinck shows a thorough knowledge of all the keyboard traditions of his time--the free forms (fantasias and toccatas) and improvisatory practices of the Venetians, the variations (based on both sacred and secular themes) of the English virginalists, and the imitation of the Franco Flemish and Italians--as well as his own concepts of polyphony, figuration, and structure.
The programme also includes a toccata by Prokofiev and Brahms's Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel.
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