The great Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, one of the most relevant musicians of music in 20th century Greece, died this Thursday at the age of 96. Theodorakis, who in recent years was on the verge of death several times, passed away at his home in Athens, leaving a huge musical legacy, not only in Greece.
With its composition in 1964 of the musical band of the film Zorba, the Greek starring Anthony Quinn and directed and edited by Michael Cacoyannis, based on the novel Life and Adventures of Alexis Zorbas, by Nikos Kazantzakis, Theodorakis managed to bring Greek popular music to the whole world.
In addition to his collaboration with Cacoyannis, Theodorakis composed the music for other films, such as Z and Site status from the Hellenic director Costas Gavras or Serpico by the American Sydney Lumet. Another of his great international legacies was the composition of the “Canto General” by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.
His militancy on the left led him to be arrested and tortured during different black periods of Greek history, to suffer firsthand the consequences of authoritarianism and to be forced into exile. Theodorakis was a deputy for parties as diametrically opposed as the communist KKE and the conservative New Democracy, coming to accept a ministerial portfolio under the mandate of Konstantinos Mitsotakis, the father of the current Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. In 2000 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Although his heart was loyal to leftist thinking for a long time, his latest political acts were directed against nothing less than one of the main achievements of the leftist government of Alexis Tsipras, reconciliation with North Macedonia, through the agreement that put end to the dispute over the name of the neighboring country, a pact against which Theodorakis joined the most nationalist voices in the country.
As soon as the news of his death was known, Parliament decreed a minute of silence in his memory.
Mikis Theodorakis has written all kinds of music, from operas, symphonic music, chamber music, oratorios, ballet, and church choirs, to music for theater, film, art, folk song, and postsymphonic works.
His work can be distinguished in three main periods: In the first (1937-1960) he composes symphonic works and chamber music; in the second (1960-1980) he tries to combine the orchestral symphony with folk instruments and creates new forms based on the voice, while from 1981 he returns to symphonic forms and delves into opera.