A New Look at the Ployer/Attwood Notebooks, Or, Mozart: A Teacher of Chromatic Completion

Edward Green


The diary of Barbara Ployer from 1784, as well as that of Thomas Attwood from 1785 to 1787, reveal a surprising fact: Mozart taught these two students of his the technique of chromatic completion – the gradual unfolding of the 12 members of the chromatic aggregate in such a way that the last tone of this aggregate appears at the most decisive and important moment of the musical form. Chromatic completion confirms the universal human necessity of the search for meaning in life as both a drama of completeness and incompleteness and that of the discontinuous and the continuous. It meets this need through the symbolic drama of sounds organized in time, i.e., through music.

Keywords: Chromatic filling-in, Mozart, Attwood, musical pedagogy, Eli Siegel, aesthetic realism

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