Petra Zenker completed her harpsichord studies with Kenneth Gilbert at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Of strong musical influence were the classes with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who taught performance practice at the Mozarteum Salzburg at that time. Additional inspiration was gathered on summer courses with Scott Ross, Jos van Immerseel, Lars Ulrik Mortensen and Jesper Christensen.She held a scholarship at the Conservatory Den Haag where she studied with Bob van Asperen.
She regularly performs recitals devoted to the 17th century harpsichord music, including the Italian, Spanish, German, and English repertoire. “mit dem Cembalo durch das 17. Jahrhundert” and “Musik zwischen Ebbe und Flut”, these CDs reflect her affinity to the early harpsichord repertoire.
As a continuo player she has worked with a variety of soloists and ensembles, and has performed in several opera productions. dialogo chordiale is an ensemble initiated by herself.
Initially a student of musicology and philology, she gained her PhD at the Mozarteum Salzburg, the theme of her thesis being “Theorie und Praxis des Cembalounterrichts im 18. Jahrhundert in Italien”. Since then, she focusses her research in performance practice on compositional techniques, basso continuo, historical temperaments and ornamentation. Currently, she collaborates on a collection of sources relating to the ornamention of keyboard music, initiated by the former Institut für Musikalische Stilforschung.
As a teacher she strives to show the compositional structure and process as a means to enlighten the performance. “See how the composer worked – and (almost) know how the piece is to be performed”.