The Real Story Behind "TOCCATA"
When ELP was making its classic Brain Salad Surgery, Keith Emerson had wanted to record his
adaptation of "Toccata" a classical music piece written by Argentina's famed pianist Alberto Ginastera.
Emerson showed Lake and Palmer the piece and then informed the band that he wanted
to meet with Ginastera to get his approval.
Emerson's visit to Ginastera's home happened on a moment's notice, and lasted approximately four hours.
Emerson flew to Vienna with ELP manager Stewart Young.
Remembers Keith Emerson:
"In 1969 I was in Los Angeles doing a concert with the Philharmonic.
It was a mixed media thing in the days when mixed media was new.
I was playing with The Nice then and we were waiting in the dressing room to go on for our number
when I heard some incredible music drifting down from the stage.
It was Ginastera's First Piano Concerto.
"Afterwards, I spoke with the soloist because I immediately wanted to record the piece.
Later, when ELP was formed, I show Carl and Greg the arrangement, and they wanted to play it too.
We were very excited about the recording we had made, but we ran into problems with Ginastera's publishers.
Finally, I realized the best thing to do was to meet with Ginastera, himself. "
Emerson and Young were granted a meeting with Ginastera and his wife.
They flew on a day's notice and eventually arrived at the famed composer's home in Switzerland.
"I was dubious about taking my arrangement to such a famous man.
We had a delicious dinner and afterwards I showed him the arrangement, and began to talk about it.
He didn't speak much English and his wife had to translate everything.
Finally, Ginastera said, '...Please! just play the tape!'.
After he had listened to them all the way through, he turned to his wife in amazement.
'Diabolic!!' he exclaimed. I was terrified.
I thought he hated it or thought I was the devil or something.
But then, he smiled.
He turned to me and said, " No one has been able to capture my music like that before!
It's exactly the way I hear it myself!' "
Emerson returned to England with Ginastera's blessing and the song was finished and included on the album.
** Photo courtesy of Marc Eisenoff