Mourning for Mikis Theodorakis: The music always in your head

Status: 02.09.2021 12:10 p.m.

Mikis Theodorakis became famous not only as a composer and conductor, but also as a resistance fighter and politician. He interfered until the very end – now he has died at the age of 96.

By Wolfgang Landmesser, WDR

A Mikis Theodorakis concert at Megaron Mousikis in Athens. The main focus is on the Mauthausen song cycle. Among the audience is Spyros Pallas, who learned bouzouki as a child and played many of Theodorakis’ works. He says: “Theodorakis is like a father to us because we grew up with his music. I remember 1965, when I saw the Farandouri for the first time, in Mauthausen, which we also hear today.”

Maria Farandouri also sang “Antonis” from the Mauthausen songs in 1974 – in one of the legendary concerts after the end of the military dictatorship.

Victim of torture and ill-treatment

Mikis Theodorakis faced death and torture early on in his life. He fought on the side of the communists in the Greek civil war. He was arrested and subjected to severe torture in a concentration camp on Makronissos Island.

“We didn’t know whether we would survive the next day,” says Theodorakis. “We had no water on Makronissos. Thirst is the worst. It was very difficult. Writing music was the way out for me.”

The Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis dies at the age of 96

Michael Schramm, ARD Rome, daily news 12:00 p.m., 2.9.2021

After the end of the civil war, Theodorakis studied at the Athens Conservatory and went to Paris in the 1950s, where he was also a student of Olivier Messiaen. Theodorakis wrote music there that was inspired by the Greek tradition. And Theodorakis has symphonic ambitions:

On the one hand serious symphonic music, on the other simple folk music. Gradually I started to write songs like that – for my friends. My very first songs, written at a very early age, were composed for my mother and the whole family.

Songs popular quickly

His songs became popular in Greece early on – such as “Ena to chelidoni” from the setting of “Axion esti” by the Greek Nobel Prize winner Odysseas Elytis.

“Epitaphios” is another key work from the 1960s. The song cycle based on poems by Jiannis Ritsos sparked controversy in Greece, the composer recalled in the mid-1990s: On the one hand, Manos Chatzidakis, who wrote more western music, on the other, his songs with the bouzouki as the central instrument .

Mikis Theodorakis conducts in front of the Acropolis of Athens in 2001. The composer now died at the age of 96.

Image: EPA

Theodorakis said: “Behind this argument, the conflict that makes up our special Greek dichotomy became visible: Should we shape our culture, our music, our poetry in a European way? And if so, to what extent? Or do we have our own strengths, our own means, our own sound, a Greek sound ? “

Theodorakis’ music can hardly be separated from his political commitment. In his long life he has always been at the center of the history of his country.

Theodorakis criticized austerity

He also took the floor in the financial crisis after 2009. The unfortunate austerity, the austerity policy, have plunged the Greeks into misery. He was hit by tear gas during a demonstration against the donor troika in 2012. After that he seldom appeared in public.

Also politically active: Theodorakis in 2011 at a protest rally against a new government austerity package in front of the university in Athens.


“Wanted to be a versatile composer”

Theodorakis felt close to his Greeks to the last – and the music is always in his head, he said in an interview on his 90th birthday. He once described the motivation for his restless work as follows: “I wanted to be a versatile, multi-layered composer. I still feel like the youth of yore who started at 14, 15, 16, colors, sounds, hatred and love of people to discover”.

Greek star composer Mikis Theodorakis has died

Wolfgang Landmesser, WDR, September 2, 2021 10:54 a.m.


Sense and understanding
02.09.2021 • 3:39 pm

“Life is the way from

“Life is the way from nothing to nothing.” (Mikis Theodorakis): Thank you for everything that he has created and achieved between these two nothing, musically and politically. RIP

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