toccata (təkäˈtə, tō–) [key] [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.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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