Mara E. Parker

Mara E. Parker, PhD

  • Chair of Visual & Performing Arts Department
  • Professor of Musicology and String Performance
Media Expertise:
  • Arts & Culture

Affiliated Programs


  • PhD, Historical Musicology (1995)
    Indiana University, Bloomington (PhD)
  • MA, Music History (1983)
    San Francisco State University (CA)
  • BM, Cello Performance 1979
    San Francisco Conservatory of Music (CA)

About Me

After earning a BM in cello performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, I chose to pursue a graduate degree in musicology, attending first San Francisco State University for my MA and then Indiana University, Bloomington for my PhD. My dissertation focused on chamber music at the Court of Friedrich Wilhelm II, King of Prussia. Much of my research since then has continued to examine 18th-century musical life, chamber music, and cello technique. In addition, I have an active cello studio and perform regularly, both as a chamber musician and as a member in two local orchestras. While I teach music history, my larger purpose is to introduce a way of thinking about things, one that hopefully transcends subject matter.

I want my students to set aside their existing baggage of personal taste and examine a work in light of historical context, intended function, and composer perspective. I want my students to leave behind their preconceived notions of good and bad quality and assess something, in this case a composition, on its own merits rather than whether a piece is pleasing to their ear.

I lead a double life at Widener. Part of my time is spent in the traditional classroom setting, while the other part is spent with students in the music studio, coaching and playing chamber music. Here I help students learn to use music as a form of communication, one that requires not words, but sound, gesture, and awareness of what others are doing. Because chamber music is in the very best sense a personal experience, my role is a combination of teacher, coach, adviser, and co-performer.

At Home with Humanities

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At Home with Humanities 

Research Interests

My research interests include 18th-century chamber music, particularly the string quartet and cello literature and technique. My most recent publications have focused on the life and works of the Italian cellist and composer, Carlo Graziani, and include both a critical edition of his Opp. 1 and 2, an assessment of his sonatas within the 18th-century cello literature, and an examination of Graziani as representative of an 18th-century musician.

I have also published articles on Boccherini's chamber compositions for Friedrich Wilhelm II, Giovanni Viotti's string quartets, a reference work on the string quartet, and a monograph on the string quartet of the second part of the 18th century.

Media Expertise

  • Chamber music
  • Music history
  • Cello
  • 18th century music history
  • American music


Parker, Mara.  An Index to Music Contained in Selected Historical Anthologies of Western Art Music.  2 volumes.  Middleton, WI: Music Library Association/A-R  Editions, 2019.

Parker, Mara and Ilene Lieberman.  “The Value of the Arts Within a Liberal Arts Education: Skills for the Workplace and the World.” In Exploring, Experiencing, Envisioning Integration in the Arts.  Edited by Nancy H. Hensel.  Palgrave McMillan, 2018.  Pages 125-141.

Parker, Mara. “Boccherini’s Workshop: The Quartettini for Friedrich Wilhelm II.”  Gli spazi della musica 4/1 (2015):

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

American Musicological Society (AMS), College Music Society (CMS), Society for 18th-Century Music (SECM)


  • Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, Humanities Division (2015)
  • Faculty Sabbatical (2013, 2003)
  • Academic Service-Learning Faculty Development Award (2007)

In the Media