Observing the use of landscape as a category of reception, whether in nineteenth-century debates about artistic realism or Soviet-era criticism, this article examines the uses of landscape in several songs by Rimsky-Korsakov and replaces a persistent emphasis in criticism on questions of representation with a focus on how music generates a sense of subjectivity. Three approaches facilitate a more subtle and variegated understanding of Rimsky-Korsakov's “soundscapes” than has been proposed so far. First, landscape is interpreted as a facet of Russian national identity in the second half of the nineteenth century. Second, the evocation of the sounds of the natural world is seen as a metapoetic commentary on the creative act, providing an “internal” commentary on landscape to match the “external” one of the nation. Intertwined with these two themes is a series of parallels between music, literature, and the visual arts, which together show that Rimsky-Korsakov's songs are indicative of a tension between dynamism and stasis that is characteristic of musical representation of landscapes, and that has often been seen as characteristic of Russian music more generally.

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