For Emerson Lake and Palmer, completing “Toccata” was quite a journey: ‘He looked like he was in pain!’

Share this:

Emerson Lake and Palmer had completed “Toccata,” a stand-out track on 1973’s Brain Salad Surgery, before it occurred to anyone that they needed to ask permission to use the song. That led Keith Emerson on a quest.

After all, “Toccata” — though it would ultimately include a wash of Emerson’s patented prog-era synthesized effects, and even a drum synthesizer from Carl Palmer — had grown out of the fourth movement of Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera’s “First Piano Concerto.” Upon contacting Ginastera’s publishers, Emerson Lake and Palmer were politely informed that he did not allow adaptations of his compositions.

Emerson wasn’t quite so easily deterred. “I learned that Ginastera was still alive and living in Geneva,” Emerson tells Broadway World, “so I got his number and called him myself. The next day, I was on a plane to Geneva. I had a nice lunch with Alberto and his wife, and then I played the tape for him.”

It’s fair to say that Ginastera, who passed a decade later at 67, had never heard his work quite this way — and Emerson, at first, was horrified by what he perceived to be the great composer’s disdain.

“When it was over, he had this strange look on his face,” Emerson adds. “He looked like he was in pain! And he said something like, I can’t remember the exact words but something like ‘That is horrible!’ I thought, oh God, he hates it! And I was ready to go home. But his wife said to us: ‘No, no, no, he says diabolical in a good way, like unbelievable!’ It turns out, he was actually overwhelmed by the recording. In the end, he loved it!”

Something Else!

Something Else!

The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Something Else!
Share this:
Close