Last Thursday, September 2, 2021, legendary Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis passed away at the age of 96. He is considered one Greece’s best composers and produced iconic musical scores that spanned most of the post-WWII period. Internationally, Theodorakis is best known for the music that accompanied the movie, Zorba the Greek, released in 1964. Yet, some of his other acclaimed works were based on Greek poetry; from Giorgos Seferis’ “Epiphania” to Odysseas Elytis’ “Axion Esti” and Yannis Ritsos’ “Romiosini”, Theodorakis provided a melodic dimension to these legendary poems.
Theodorakis would have been considered a leading composer with just these accomplishments. However, it would be his political beliefs that would drive many of his other well-known works. He composed the Mauthausen Trilogy, based on poems written by Iakovos Kambanellis, which was one of the earliest artistic works highlighting the horrors of the Holocaust.
For the Greeks, Theodorakis is intrinsically associated with resistance against one of the most repressive dictatorships in contemporary Greek history: the military dictatorship of 1967-74. Theodorakis quickly founded the resistance organization “Patriotic Front” (PAM) to help bring down the dictatorship. He was arrested, imprisoned, and banished to remote village in the Peloponnese. In 1970, Theodorakis was allowed to leave Greece and flew to Paris where he was immediately hospitalized. The music that Theodorakis created during this period centered on protest against the dictatorship – such musical score for the movie Z by Costas Gavras – and promoting the universal causes of freedom, equality, and social justice.
Theodorakis was an extraordinarily prolific composer and his loss is deeply felt by the Greek people. Today, he was buried in Chania, Crete, with thousands of individuals coming to witness the funeral rites and pay their final respects.
Very few political or cultural figures have generated such adoration and acclaim.
Αιωνία σου η μνήμη.