The word toccata
traditionally refers to a keyboard composition in so-called ‘free’ idiomatic keyboard style. Chords, scale-like passages, contrasting tempi in quickly changing scenes characterize this form. An early precedent was established (circa 1600) in which the structural elements of the keyboard toccata were utilized in pieces for brass. The orchestral medium also offers ample opportunity for the presentation of these characteristics, and composers have often availed themselves of it.
The Toccata for Strings, Solo Winds, and Percussion
is a comparatively short, one-movement work divided into four sections. The first section is like an exposition and the second like a development; then comes a kind of diversionary slow movement based on the theme stated by the wind instruments at the outset of the entire work. The fourth section provides a recapitulation and coda.