Mikis Theodorakis 1925-2021

Mikis TheodorakisGreek composer died today, aged 96.  His musical works ranged from rousing songs based on major Greek poetic works, many of which have remained left-wing anthems for decades, to symphonies and film scores.  Theodorakis composed perhaps the most recognizable Greek music internationally, the syrtaki from the film Zorba the Greek in 1964.  He also composed the scores in films such as Phaedra in 1962, Z in 1969 and Serpico in 1973, winning BAFTA Prizes and gaining nominations for Grammy Awards.  He is viewed as Greece's best-known modern composer and was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize.  Theodorakis was instrumental in raising global awareness of Greece's plight during the 1967-74 junta military dictatorship, which imprisoned/tortured him and banned his songs.

Mikis Theodorakis later became an MP for the Communist Party of Greece, KKE, from 1981 to 1990.  However, in 1989 he ran as an independent canditate with the centre-right-wing New Democracy and became a minister in 1990 under Constantine Mitsotakis, father of the current Greek Prime Minister. In his later years, he was repeatedly hospitalised due to his heart and health problems.  

The Hellenic President said  "Mikis Theodorakis, whose loss we mourn today, was a pan-Hellenic personality and at the same time a universal artist, an invaluable asset of our musical culture.  He was given a rich and fruitful life that he lived with passion, a life dedicated to music, the arts, our country and its people, dedicated to the ideas of freedom, justice, equality and social solidarity".

The Greek Prime Minister announced three-days of national mourning for the death of the legendary composer.  He wrote "I had the honour of knowing him for many years, and his advice has always been valuable to me, especially concerning the unity of our people and overcoming divisions.  The best way to honour him, a global Greek, is to live by that message . . . Mikis is our history". 

Mikis Theodorakis was born on the island of Chios, on 29th July 1925, he later studied music in Athens and Paris.  The composer's last wish was to be buried in the small ancestral village of Galatas (where his father was born) near the city of Chania on Crete.  Flags across the country have been flown at half mast.  His body will lie in state for three days next week in the Metropolitan Cathedral in Athens, with a funeral service on Wednesday 8th September at 3:00 pm, before being taken to his beloved Galatas.  Following a funeral service, he will be buried in the village cemetery, next to his parents and brother, in accordance with his wishes.