"Her work has taught the sense of sound to see"

Günter Eich Prize 2017 for the lifework of a radio play author goes to Friederike Mayröcker

Leipzig, 12 January 2017. The Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation will award the "Günter Eich Prize" 2017 to Austrian writer Friederike Mayröcker. The prize is endowed with 10,000 euros. The award ceremony will be held during the Media Foundation's summer party at its Media Campus Villa Ida in Leipzig. The exact date will be announced in good time. “This year, two broadcasters actually nominated Friederike Mayröcker for our prize - so it is perhaps unsurprising that the jury's decision was unanimous," explains Stephan Seeger, Managing Director of the Media Foundation and Director of the Sparkasse Leipzig Foundations: "The almost 50 radio plays created by Friederike Mayröcker since 1968 demonstrate that she has not only taken the genre seriously, but also explored and even shifted its limits in many directions."

Friederike Mayröcker, born on 20 December 1924 in Vienna, is one of the most renowned, productive and innovative German-language writers. She began publishing literary works in 1939, and poems in 1946; Larifari, which appeared in 1956, was her first independent publication. She entered the world of radio drama together with Ernst Jandl and the play Five Man Humanity, which was written for SWF in 1968 - an almost fifteen-minute piece which helped Germany's so-called Neues Hörspiel movement to spread. Her collaboration with Ernst Jandl resulted in a number of other radio plays in the following years, but she also began writing her own works. Often voiced by the author herself, these were produced together with directors such as Heinz von Cramer, Klaus Schöning, Ulrich Gerhardt and Götz Fritsch, and with composers including Gerhard Rühm, Mauricio Kagel and Pierre Henry.

Back in 1969, when she was awarded the War Blinded Audio Play Prize for Five Man Humanity, in an explanation of her expectations of the genre she commented that a radio play should "be acoustically satisfying, fascinating, appealing, i.e. the acoustic process must produce a very definite response in the listener, something that is not unlike the enjoyment of music, but that is triggered by words and noises instead of sounds." Friederike Mayröcker has received many awards, including the Georg Trakl Poetry Prize (1977), the Else Lasker-Schüler Poetry Prize (1996) and the Georg Büchner Prize (2001). She was made an honorary citizen of the city of Vienna in 2015.

The jury, chaired by Wolfgang Schiffer (former director of radio plays at WDR), paid tribute to Mayröcker's contributions to the genre. The panel felt that her own radio plays fulfil the requirements she set out in 1969, and that Mayröcker's "superior continuation of concrete poetry strikes an utterly unique pitch." The jury continued: "With plays such as 'The Embracement, After Picasso', her work has taught the sense of sound to see. And in the unique work of Friederike Mayröcker, that sense of sound has long since mastered the ability to sing."

Now organized for the sixth time, the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation's "Günter Eich Prize" is intended for authors who have contributed to the genre of radio drama an oeuvre of outstanding substance and formal competence. It alternates annually with the "Axel Eggebrecht Prize" for radio features. The past laureates were Alfred Behrens (2007), Eberhard Petschinka (2009), Hubert Wiedfeld (2011), Jürgen Becker (2013) and Ror Wolf (2015).

2017 - Günter Eich Prize