PhD, University of Helsinki

Harry N. and Ruth F. Wyatt Chair in Music Theory

Danuta Mirka studied music theory in Poland and earned a PhD in musicology at the University of Helsinki, Finland. She was a Senior Fulbright Fellow at Indiana University, Bloomington, and a Humboldt Fellow and Research Fellow of the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) at the University of Freiburg, Germany. Before coming to Northwestern, she taught at the Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice, Poland, and the University of Southampton, UK. During her time in the UK she obtained the Research Fellowship of the Leverhulme Trust.

Mirka’s main research interests include the theory and analysis of meter and rhythm and the study of musical communication in the late eighteenth century. She is particularly interested in integrating aspects of historical music theory with those of contemporary research in music theory and cognition. She is the co-editor, with Kofi Agawu, of Communication in Eighteenth-Century Music (2008) and the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Topic Theory (2014), which received the Citation of Special Merit from the Society for Music Theory in 2015. Her books include The Sonoristic Structuralism of Krzysztof Penderecki (1997) and Metric Manipulations in Haydn and Mozart: Chamber Music for Strings, 1787–1791 (2009), which won the 2011 Wallace Berry Award of the Society for Music Theory. Her articles have appeared in such scholarly journals as The Journal of Musicology, Journal of Music Theory, Music Theory Online, Eighteenth-Century Music, The American Journal of Semiotics, Semiotica, and The Musical Quarterly. Her article “The Mystery of the Cadential Six-Four,” published in the collection What Is the Cadence? (2015), received the 2017 Roland Jackson Award from the American Musicological Society.

A former vice president of the Society for Music Analysis, Mirka has served on the editorial boards of Music Theory Spectrum, Eighteenth-Century Music, Journal of Music Theory and Music Theory and Analysis.

Selected Works/Publications


Metric Manipulations in Haydn and Mozart: Chamber Music for Strings, 1787–1791. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 

The Sonoristic Structuralism of Krzysztof Penderecki. Katowice: Akademia Muzyczna, 1997.


The Oxford Handbook of Topic Theory. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 

Communication in Eighteenth-Century Music. Co-edited with Kofi Agawu. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.


“The Mystery of the Cadential Six-Four.” In What is a Cadence? Theoretical and Analytical Perspectives on Cadences in the Classical Repertoire, edited by Markus Neuwirth and Pieter Bergé, 157–84. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2015.

“Absent Cadences.” Eighteenth-Century Music 9, no. 2 (2012): 213–35.

“Punctuation and Sense in Late-Eighteenth-Century Music.” Journal of Music Theory 54, no. 2 (2010): 235–82.

“The Cadence of Mozart’s Cadenzas.” Journal of Musicology 22, no. 2 (2005): 292–325.

“Das Spiel mit der Kadenz.” Die Musikforschung 57, no. 1 (2005): 18–35.

“Górecki’s musica geometrica.” The Musical Quarterly 87, no. 2 (2004): 305–32.

“The Passion According to Penderecki.” In Voicing the Ineffable, edited by Siglind Bruhn, 189–230. Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2002.

“To Cut the Gordian Knot: The Timbre System of Krzysztof Penderecki.” Journal of Music Theory 45, no. 2 (2001): 433–54.

Texture in Penderecki’s Sonoristic Style.” Music Theory Online 6, no. 1 (2000). 

“Colors of a Mystic Fire: Light and Sound in Scriabin’s Prometheus.” The American Journal of Semiotics 13 (1996): 227–48.