Although Toccata grottesca
fortunately ended up having a personality of its own, it is actually modeled closely after a preexisting piece by another composer. This was a pure experiment on my part, and I am quite surprised at how I was able to adhere to the model without making the derivation obvious (at least I don’t think it’s obvious!), considering how similar the texture and form ended up being. Understandably, I don’t wish to reveal the identity of the original, and I am interested to know how skilful I was in masking the source of my inspiration. (Who is it that once said ‘originality is the art of concealing one’s source’?) It is not a terribly well-known work, although someone with a sufficiently broad knowledge of the piano literature might recognize it. I woke up one morning with the first eight bars of this étude fully formed in my head, and I immediately thought ‘hey, that sounds a little bit like …’. And so the piece was born.
from notes by Marc-André Hamelin © 2010