Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, famous for “Zorba the Greek”, dies

Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, famous for “Zorba the Greek”, dies

Symbol of the resistance to the dictatorship of the colonels and famous for the music of “Zorba the Greek,” the great Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis died in Athens at the age of 96, sources at the hospital where he was hospitalized reported Thursday. 

Although he rose to world fame for the 1964 film starring Anthony Quinn, Theodorakis is the author of a prolific work that ranges from symphonies to oratorios and includes an important contribution to the renewal of popular music. 

As for film soundtracks, he composed about twenty, among others those of “Z”, “State of Siege” and “Sérpico”.

He had suffered from heart problems for a few years and had had to be hospitalized, says AFP.

Mikis Theodorakis now passes into eternity. His voice has been silenced and with it all Hellenism, ”Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday, declaring three days of national mourning.

“Today we have lost a part of the soul of Greece. Mikis Theodorakis, our Mikis, the teacher, the intellectual, the resistant, is gone. The one who made all the Greeks sing to the poets ”, added the Greek Minister of Culture, Lina Mendoni.

The President of the Republic, Eikaterini Sakellaropoulou, praised a “great Greek and universal creator, an inestimable value for all of our musical culture, who dedicated his life to music, art, our country and its inhabitants, to the ideas of freedom. , justice, equality and solidarity ”.

“Mikis enriched Greek music and world music,” Franco-Greek film director Costa Gavras said on the Sputnik portal. “He was a very special Greek”

The remains of Mikis Theodorakis will remain in the cathedral of Athens from next Tuesday until Thursday for a popular tribute. His funeral will be held on Friday afternoon, his family announced.

His last wish was to be buried in his land of Galatás, west of the Cretan city of Chania, and it will be fulfilled.

Born on July 29, 1925 in Chios, in the Aegean, in a family of Cretan origin, Mikis Theodorakis participated at a very young age in the resistance against the Nazis and over the years it became a kind of national monument in Greece .

Active with the communists during the civil conflict that broke out in Greece after World War II, he was deported to the prison island of Makrónisos, where he was tortured. After this he left for Paris to study at the conservatory.

Back in Athens, he became involved with Grigoris Lambrakis, a deputy of the left-wing EDA party, assassinated in November 1963 in Thessaloniki by the extreme right with the complicity of the state apparatus. The film “Z” by Costa Gavras is precisely dedicated to this case.

Theodorakis was detained since the beginning of the colonels’ dictatorship, which began on April 21, 1967.

Exile and popularity

Amnestied a year later, he led an underground movement and was placed under house arrest. His popularity did not stop growing and, to try to silence him, the colonels returned to imprison him and banned his work. 

He became a symbol of resistance to the dictatorship and the junta was finally forced to let him go, to Paris, under pressure from the international community.

When the dictatorship fell in 1974, a crowd greeted him on July 24 at the Athens airport chanting his name.

At that moment, he decided to offer surprising support to Constantin Caramanlis, the right-wing statesman who will organize the return of democracy. A phrase attributed to him: “Caramanlis or the tanks”, for a long time provoked the anger of his left-wing comrades.

During the financial crisis that affected Greece a few years ago, he spoke out against the austerity measures imposed by the country’s creditors (European Central Bank, European Union and International Monetary Fund).

In 2012, he was hit by tear gas while protesting in front of the parliament in Athens. 

In recent years, Theodorakis militated against the agreement signed by Greece and Macedonia on the new name of the neighboring country, which became North Macedonia.

The composer was married to Myrto, his lifelong companion, and had two children, Marguerite and Georges.

The singer Paloma San Basilio immortalized her song Luna de Miel. Lyrics in Spanish: Rafael de Penagos and music by Mikis Theodorakis. Pure Greek air breathes this song with music by Mikis Theodorakis, which was a mythical success by the Catalan artist Gloria Lasso, and which in the version made by Paloma in 1987 acquires its own personality, becoming a world-famous song.