Mexico. Greeks ‘have just died of a deity’, said the British news channel BBC when reporting yesterday on the death, at the age of 96, of composer Mikis Theodorakis, which occurred in a hospital in Istanbul. Athens due to long-standing heart problems.
Although he is popular in various corners of the world for making countless film soundtracks, including, in 1964, the music for the film Zorba, the Greek, his great legacy consists of the symphonies he developed by approaching in a contemporary way the ancient musical genre of the oratorio, generally composed for solo voices, choir and orchestra.
“Today we lost part of the soul of Greece. Mikis Theodorakis, our Mikis, the teacher, the intellectual, the resistant, is gone. El que hizo que todos los griegos cantaran a los poetas”, lamentó la ministra griega de Cultura, Lina Mendoni, mientras el presidente de aquel país, Eikaterini Sakellaropoulou, ordenó colocar las banderas de los edificios públicos a media asta en señal de luto nacionalduringe three days.
It has also been agreed that Theodorakis’ remains will be transported next Tuesday to the cathedral in the Greek capital, where they will remain until Thursday to receive the popular tribute of their compatriots. His funeral will take place on Friday, September 10, in the afternoon, his family announced.
His last wish, which will be granted, was to be buried in Galatás, a small town on the island of Crete. “Mikis Theodorakis now passes into eternity. His voice has been silenced and with it all of Hellenism,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
an early passion
The composer was born on July 29, 1925 in Chios, an island in the Aegean Sea off Turkey, into a family of Cretan origin. At the age of 12, his passion for music is already known, when he begins to write his first works. At 17, in Tripoli, he offered his first concert.
Very young he took part in the resistance against the Nazis; in 1941, he composed Captain Zacharias which became a hymn against the invasion. He was also an active Communist activist during the civil conflict that broke out in Greece after World War II, when he was deported to the prison island of Makrónisos, where he was tortured.
He then left for France to study at the Paris Conservatory thanks to a grant which he obtained in 1954. There he was a disciple of Olivier Messiaen. Theodorakis carried several coins under his arm, such as the after do not. 1 for piano and orchestra, with which he won the gold medal at the Moscow Festival, before a jury chaired by Dimitri Shostakovich.
Back in Athens, he became friends with Grigoris Lambrakis, deputy of the United Democratic Left (EDA) party, assassinated in November 1963 in Thessaloniki by the far right with the complicity of the state apparatus.
A year earlier, in 1962, the composer traveled to Havana, Cuba, as an EDA parliamentarian, together with deputy Evanhegelos Sakellaris, both invited by the new revolutionary government.
He made the whole island sing and dance to the rhythm of Honeymoon, one of his most famous compositions. Although the hot and humid climate of Havana does not suit him, he agrees to leave with Ernesto Che Guevara to see the Sierra Maestra, where he had “a memorable week”, recalls Theodorakis. The musician also befriends Fidel Castro, with whom he exchanges many letters.
Theodorakis was arrested at the start of the Greek dictatorship of the colonels, which began on April 21, 1967. However, the bars did not diminish his creativity and, even as a prisoner, he continued to compose. Amnesty a year later, he leads an underground movement and is under house arrest in a village in the mountains of the Peloponnese. In an attempt to silence him, the colonels imprison him again and ban his work, but his popularity is already unstoppable and he becomes a symbol of resistance to dictatorship.
The junta was forced to let him go to Paris under pressure from the international community. In 1970 he was able to settle in the French capital, where he met Pablo Neruda, a relationship that resulted in the musicalization of the poems of the Chilean Nobel Prize for Literature. general sing.
When the dictatorship fell in 1974, a crowd greeted the musician at Athens airport, chanting his name. At this moment, surprisingly, Mikis decided to support Constantin Caramanlis, the right-wing statesman who organized the return of democracy. Asked about his action, the musician would have replied: “Caramanlis or the tanks”, which has long provoked the anger of his comrades on the left.
Leader of artists and politicians
During the financial crisis that hit Greece a few years ago, Theodorakis spoke out against the austerity measures imposed by the country’s creditors (European Central Bank, European Union and International Monetary Fund).
In 2012, while taking part in a demonstration in front of the parliament in Athens, he was hit by tear gas. In recent years, he has campaigned against the agreement signed by Greece and Macedonia on the new name of the neighboring country, which has become North Macedonia.
The composer was married to Myrto Altinoglou, his companion since 1954, with whom he had two children, Marguerite and Georges. De acuerdo con especialistas, su legado transcende su obra musical, pues fue un líder tanto para artists como para políticos por su lucha contra las injustice y en favor de la libertad, un revolucionario que otorgó un nuevo significado a la cultura y el arte en su Country.
Among the messages of condolences that were read yesterday on social networks, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) recalled that Theodorakis had received the Lenin Peace Prize and anticipating the end of his life, Mikis had contacted by telephone the secretary General of the KKE Central Committee, Dimitris Koutsoumbas, to whom he confided his last wishes in a personal letter dated October 5, 2020 which reads: “Now, at the end of my life, at the hour of judgment, the details disappear of my mind and ‘Big Sizes remain. So I see that I spent my most critical, strong and mature years under the KKE banner. That’s why I want to leave this world as a communist.”
(With information from Afp and Prensa Latina.)