Richard Evans

Richard Evans studied music at Exeter University in the late 1970s before moving to Frankfurt at the beginning of the 1980s, where he lived for the next fifteen years. During that time he worked in a number of jobs, including a spell with a forwarding agent in Frankfurt airport, then as a language teacher and eventually, after studying the piano at the Hochschule in Frankfurt, as a piano teacher.

After moving back to England in 1995 Evans completed a doctorate in music aesthetics at Bristol University. Since then he has continued to work in the fields of language teaching - he spent three years in Spain in the mid 2000s - and piano teaching, which is currently his main job. He has been active as a performer for many years (together with his wife, Naoko Inoue, he gave a concert at the Goethe-Institut in London in 2010).

Three questions to Richard Evans

Why did you choose to become a translator? Is it the profession you always wanted?

It happened gradually. There was professional contact with translation through my work as a language teacher, informal translation opportunites in the field of music (programme notes for concerts, for example) and eventually some professional work in the field of musicology. Although I have no formal training in the field I have always been interested in both the nuts and bolts of translation and wider-ranging theoretical issues. Writers like Susan Bassnett, Lawrence Venuti and David Bellos give us a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the act of translation and place it in a larger cultural (intellectual, political) context.

The last substantial piece of translation I undertook was the book on understanding music by Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht. This was a text I felt strongly deserved a wider audience and I spent considerable time and effort trying to find a publisher to take it on. Ashgate finally accepted the project. Since then I have put forward a couple of proposals to publishers for other projects - Hans-Ulrich Treichel's novel 'Tristanakkord' was the most recent - but there were no takers.
Currently I am so busy with other work that translation has unfortunately rather receded into the background.
Which German book do you like the best and why?

An impossible question to answer once and for all! The first writer I read closely in German was Alfred Andersch and I have lived through consuming enthusiasms for many others since. I would mention Uwe Johnson, Thomas Bernhard, Elfriede Jelinek, Robert Walser, also Max Goldt (now there's a challenge for a translator!), and of more recent writers Hans-UlrichTreichel and Peter Stamm ('Sieben Jahre' and 'Blitzeis' especially). I love Genazino's Abschaffel trilogy for its evocation of 1970s Frankfurt.
Is there a particular book you would like to translate?

There are many. I'd love to do some fiction: I've already mentioned Treichel. In my field of expertise - musicology - there is work by Carl Dahlhaus, Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht and Albrecht Wellmer that interests me. But if I had to nominate a single book it would be Rainer Cadenbach's study of Max Reger ('Max Reger und Seine Zeit' Laaber, 1991). Cadenbach's analysis of Reger's tragic failures (and occasional successes) as a composer and performer in both his private and public existences is utterly compelling.

Selection of translated titles

  • Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht: Understanding Music (Musik verstehen). Ashgate, 2009
  • Übersetzungen für die Zeitschrift “Music Analysis”