The Susanas of Manoel Rodrigues Coelho - Finely Woven Baroque Dresses for a Renaissance Chanson. A Case Study of Keyboard Intabulations as Ekphrasis of Narrative, Painting, and Song


  • Marcos Krieger

Palabras clave:

musical ekphrasis, interart transfer, intabulations, Susanna trope, Manoel Rodrigues Coelho


Ut pictura musica captures the ekphrastic nature of musical creation long before the Romantic concept of programmatic music came into existence. Late Renaissance and Baroque composers often found inspiration in narratives and scenes, as demonstrated in this paper that traces the Susanna trope from biblical narrative, through visual art and song, arriving at instrumental intabulations in Portugal. The process of ‘interart transfer’ is thus examined within the ekphrasis theorems proposed by literary scholar Tamar Yacobi and musicologist Siglind Bruhns. This case study focuses on manifestations of the Susanna trope in three different media: Portuguese art of the time, the polyphonic setting of Susanne un jour by Orlando de Lassus, which became ubiquitously famous in the sixteenth century, and the four Susanas of Manoel Rodrigues Coelho, published in his Flores de Música (Lisbon, Craesbeeck: 1626) as keyboard intabulations that documented newly emerging composition-al traits in Iberian keyboard music.