Skip to main content

Theodora Serbanescu-Martin

Theodora Serbanescu-Martin
Theodora Serbanescu-Martin

Graduate Resident Fellow

Theodora is a third-year Ph.D. student in the musicology program and a professional pianist. Her interdisciplinary research covers various themes such as Brahms and the history of virtuosity, lateness and Beethoven, and her interest in performance studies extends into carnal musicology, disability studies, affect theory and gender studies. Last semester, Theodora gave two papers, one at the conference “Brahms on the Pacific” in Irvine and one at the Fourth HPI Conference in Indiana. Theodora received a B.A. in Music and English and a minor in German from UC Berkeley, where she completed two honors theses, one for music, “Brahms’s Piano Exercise Mode and the Politics of Friendship,” which won a Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research, and one for English, “A Poetics of Performance: Agency, Voices and the “I” in Wyatt’s Poetry.” 

Theodora’s repertoire covers music from Bach to twenty-first composers such as Thomas Adès and Unsuk Chin, but her metaphysical-transhistorical soulmates are Beethoven, Brahms (to whom she is married), Chopin, Liszt, Prokofiev, Clara Schumann and sometimes Schubert and Robert Schumann. Her back-up husband is Mahler, missing just co-husbandhood with Brahms only because of his lack of extensive solo piano works. Theodora is currently studying with Xak Bjerken, and past mentors include Martha Wasley. Her performance awards include first place in the Pacific Musical Society, American Fine Arts Festival, Young Pianists’ Beethoven and MTAC Concerto competitions, and some of the orchestras she has worked with in the US and abroad include the UCBSO, Saratoga Symphony, Kostroma Symphony Orchestra and the Lublin Chamber Orchestra.  

Theodora was born in Bucharest, Romania, but has lived in NorCal since she was eleven. Most deeply at her core she is a basic California girl (go ahead, complain to her about the weather) who loves make-up (she is practically a make-up guru), and a non-conforming feminist and tree-hugging vegan who is always excited to try new recipes. Her Ithacan loves include Wegmans, Olin library (especially its late hours), and the bats of Barnes Hall (which she has gotten to know very well on her late-night practicing sessions).