BEHIND THE SCENES with Alfred Koch

What motivated you to produce this program about Raymond Carver

Simply greed. I was heavily Carver-addicted and after having read whatever came to my hands I became equally fascinated about Carver's personal life story. As a consequence a trip to the Pacific Northwest became inevitable.

What sort of response did you get from listeners in Austria about this program? Is Carver well-known there?

There were not too many responses from listeners. Our listeners are cultured and sophisticated and prefer to keep their joy of listening as a secret. But there is some evidence that they were pleased with the program and that quite a lot of them started to read Carver after the broadcasting. Among feature makers, directors, and journalists the programme was a remarkable success and was appreciated for its formal elegance and sound design. The programme's success is mainly due to a coincidental but perfect timing: Carver was almost unknown in Austria and Germany until Robert Altman's Short Cuts came out and -- as a consequence -- the stories on which Altman had based his film were translated into German. That has generated something like a Carver-hype in the German-speaking world and just in time this radio programme appeared on stage. Just a coincidence.

**The program reveals that Carver's widow Tess Gallagher does not readily give many interviews. How did you convince her to talk to you about her husband, his career, and her own relationship to writing?***

**I think it's understandable that Tess Gallagher doesn't want to spend the rest of her life talking daily about Raymond Carver all day and all night long with curious journalists from all over the world. She had insisted that I should send her my questions in advance -- just to find out what kind of questionmaker I am. And I have to admit: that has put me to work -- like this interview now. Talking in a strange foreign language like English usually reduces my intellectual capacities to a minimum and results in extensive use of dictionaries. Hardship with queer results. But I guess Tess realized that I was at least ambitious. When I finally met her (joined by my wife, Anna Koch-Handschuh, the program's inspirer and intellectual supporter) we felt immediately familiar with her -- a good start for a good interview with a strong and impressive personality.***

**How did you feel yourself, when you finally arrived at Carver's grave, having traveled so far from Austria to Port Angeles, Washington, to get there?***

**I thought if I really ever have to be buried somewhere it should be at a place like this: a graveyard with a fantastic ocean view.***

**You include several excerpts of English conversation in the piece, which is then translated into German. How do you think hearing a story partly (or entirely) in a foreign language affects the way one comprehends that story? What are some of the challenges/payoffs in working with audio in a different language?***

**That's really a challenge and I spend hours and hours with finding a path through the two languages. Most of our listeners can understand English -- but not all of them. So the task is to oscillate skillfully between the German translation and bits and pieces of non-translated English sentences or part of sentences in a way that no one of the two groups get bored or offended. My ideal is to generate something like intercommunication between the two languages defined ultimately by the rhythm. That has nothing to do with voiceover or mere duplication of what is said by the interviewees. Sometimes I just translate, sometimes not, sometimes I add in the translation further information which was not heard in original voice. The master is the rhythm. The contents. And my attention span. For non-German-speaking listeners this oscillating might be difficult to catch because the program changes sometimes quickly between information and language, extension and reduplication, and it definitely appeals to German speakers with some English knowledge and not vice versa. But anyway, I think the rhythm and the aesthetic concept can be easily comprehended even if one has to read a transcript.***

**Music seems to be an integral part of this story. How did you choose the music you used, and what were you hoping to accomplish through the scoring?***

**Music is also an integral part of my life. There is hardly a minute without music in this program (like in most of my other features), but here it often stays behind, sometimes reduced to a tone, a colour. For me music is the medium of the rhythm, to generate a flow, a hopefully consistent stream -- a relatively slow flow in this case. I cannot afford a composer so I take pieces of music and do with them whatever I can, change them on the computer, alter them, fake them into something that fits into my concept, into my imagination. The music colour that I intended for the Carver program was of course something that represents the Pacific Northwest.***

**Is this program typical of the other literary features that you make?***

It's in a way typical -- concerning the use of music, for example -- but it's slower then most of my programs. And I have spent much more time on this production. As I told you before I was Carver-addicted and that illuminated constitution was pushing me, raised my ambition and urged me to produce my best and most perfect program ever. Which I failed, of course. I will not be buried on an oceanside cemetery and I will never be perfect. Austria has no sea.