Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

See Why “Toccata in D Minor” Performed by Richard Elliott is Winning Halloween

Richard Elliott has been an organist for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir since 1991 and has been wowing audiences with his skills ever since. Elliott performs for Music and the Spoken broadcasts, recordings, and tours but is perhaps most well-known for his incredible organ solos from the annual Christmas concerts on Temple Square.

This time, however, Elliott took on a different holiday by performing “Toccata in D Minor” by Johann Sebastian Bach for a spellbinding Halloween video. In its first 24 hours, the video was viewed over 300,000 times on Facebook, and it is gaining a large number of views on YouTube as well.

"Toccata in D Minor" is one of the most recognizable pieces of organ music and has been featured in many films, including: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), The Black Cat (1934), Disney's Fantasia (1940), Sunset Boulevard (1950), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), The Phantom of the Opera (1962), and The Great Race (1965).

For casual viewers, this video might seem out of character for Elliott, but this type of rock star performance has always been a part of his style. In the 1970s, Elliott played keyboard in a rock band. In a KSL news special, “Steadfast in the Spotlight,” Elliott even showed reporter Michelle King a sample of what he played in his rock band by performing “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple (video below). “We were known for all kinds of music, but we were especially known for our fire show; we had flaming, you name it, tambourines, gongs, and I even had a little synthesizer that shot out flames. I had an afro and that was just how my hair grew, and it gave us some notoriety in the band,” recalled Elliott.

King concluded the story on Elliott by saying, “So how much does Richard Elliott practice every day? He says one hour’s the bare minimum, three hours is good, and if he’s preparing for a big performance, it’s eight hours or more.” 

As you can tell, Elliott is very enthusiastic about the organ and wants to make sure the instrument doesn’t get overlooked. He once said, “I have always wanted to win friends for the organ. If you go back in time, you’ll find that it was a well-respected instrument. Mozart called the organ the ‘King of Instruments.’ In his era, the two most impressive feats of human engineering were considered to be the mechanical clock and the pipe organ.”

Watch more videos by Richard Elliott:

Steadfast in the Spotlight (KSL special that ran during general conference weekend in 2015)

Richard Elliott's segment starts at the 56-second mark and finsihes 7 minutes and 22 seconds in. Watch:


Hot Pipes—Richard Elliott and the Orchestra at Temple Square 

Tabernacle organist Richard Elliott and the Orchestra at Temple Square perform "Hot Pipes" (Movement no. 4—Jazz Concerto  for Organ and Orchestra) from the 2014 Pioneer Day concert featuring Santino Fontana. Music: Victor Davies


The Twelve Days of Christmas, with Count von Count

Count von Count joins Tabernacle organist Richard Elliott during his Christmas concert organ solo, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Watch as the Count counts, and Richard Elliott weaves songs in and out of each day. "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was arranged by Richard Elliott.


Countdown with the Count and Tabernacle Organists 

Sesame Street's own Count von Count joins Tabernacle organists Andrew Unsworth, Clay Christiansen, and Richard Elliott in an entertaining Christmas concert countdown. Let's see how well the Count knows his Christmas songs.