Prokofiev’s Toccata, Op. 11 for Solo Piano: An Exhilarating Musical Motor

Sergei Prokofiev’s Toccata, Op. 11 for solo piano is music of the Machine Age.

Launched into motion with a volley of repeated D’s, the brief and blazing piece hurtles forward as an indomitable, perpetual motor. Edgy and seemingly demonic, it takes us on an exhilarating, increasingly terrifying ride, punctuated with quirky melodic leaps, jarring dissonances, and torrents of chromaticism.

Composed in 1912, this is music of the 23-year-old Prokofiev. Shocking, previously unimaginable music such as the Toccata earned the young composer a reputation as an enfant terrible. The technical challenges of the piece are so vast that the composer, himself, struggled to play it.

Here is Martha Argerich’s performance, recorded in 1960:

If Argerich’s approach accentuates the piece’s edgy sense of “rock and roll,” Yuja Wang achieves a spectacular control, focused energy, and precision. After performing Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto, she returned to the stage at the 2018 Lucerne Festival for this encore:


  • Prokofiev: Toccata, Op. 11, Martha Argerich Amazon

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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