The purpose of the study is to introduce selected piano toccatas composed in the twentieth-century, and to explore the character and contrasting musical styles of these toccatas. Many composers of this century were interested in the toccata form. This often challenging genre has provided pianists with technically brilliant repertoire.
This study is an attempt to observe the development and contrast of toccatas during each musical era: Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary. Also, the selected toccatas are examined from the performer‟s perspective, e.g., each composer‟s musical idiom and construction.
The first chapter states the definition of toccata and researches its origin. It covers how the toccata developed through the Baroque period and between the Classical and Romantic periods; it briefly describes composers‟ principal traits and new attempts toward the toccata. The next chapter discusses the revival of the toccata in the twentieth century, especially compositions by Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Sergei Prokofiev. Along with distinct features of each toccata, it examines similarities and differences among three works. This is followed by selected twentieth century piano toccatas, focusing on a variety of compositional styles and musical ideas: contrapuntal writing, neo-classical, rag influence, and minimalism. This chapter includes compositions by Lee Hoiby, Robert Muczynski, Emma Lou Diemer, and George Rochberg, in chronological order. Also, as a performance guide, technical difficulty and suggested practice techniques are addressed. The conclusion briefly summarizes the most distinctive characteristic of toccatas covered in earlier chapters, and expresses the author‟s views about the value of the toccata in keyboard literature of the twentieth century.