Mikis Theodorakis: The German Composer known for “Zorba” dies at 96!

Mikis Theodoraki

The globally popular Greek composer and musician Mikis Theodorakis has passed away at the age of 96.

Mikis, the musician who was also an active political activist died on 2nd September 2021 reportedly due to heart related issues. The official website of Theodorakis announced the news of Mikis’ passing and has stated cardiopulmonary arrest as the cause of his death. The state TV also announced the unfortunate news.

The Oscar winner star was 96 of age. He died on Thursday morning at his home in Central Athens. The composer was highly respected and one of the prominent people among the Greek population. As the news of his death released, the state of Greece announced three days of mourning across the nation, which has the population of 11 million people, to honor the great artist.

Theodorakis was popularly known for his composition in “Zorba the Greek.” Other than that, the musician was also known for his personality and his a progressive and democratic vision of the world, which he earned with his own experience

The news of Mikis’ demise was also addressed by Lina Mendoni, the Culture Minister of Greece. Mendoni said, “Today we lost a part of Greece’s soul. Mikis Theodorakis, Mikis the teacher, the intellectual, the radical, our Mikis has gone.”

On the other hand, the Greek President also honored and remembered Theodorakis on the day of his passing. President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said in a statement, “He lived with passion, a life dedicated to music, the arts, our country and its people, dedicated to the ideas of freedom, justice, equality, social solidarity,”

The President further stated, “He wrote music that became intertwined with the historical and social developments in Greece in the postwar years, music that provided encouragement, consolation, protest, and support in the darker periods of our recent history.”

The renowned composer Theodorakis has been credited for introducing a “carefree image of Greece to the world in the 1960s with “Zorba.” As Reuters explains, Zorba is known to be the “earthy soundtrack” to a movie which featured Anthony Quinn portraying the “lovable, eponymous rogue who dances barefoot on a Cretan beach.”

As said above, Mikis was an active political activist as well, and his music and politics went together. Back in 1994, in an interview with news outlet NPR, Mikis had said, “I wanted to unite the popular and the serious.” He further explained that he wished to make “a popular symphony, a popular oratorio. I put one, one question: for whom I compose. My answer is I wanted to address to all my people, and if I write music for the Greek people … I compose for all the people. I write for all the peoples, for all the world.”

Remembering Mikis on the day of his demise, singer Manolis Mitsias said, “He (Mikis) was a giant and we were all proud of him. His music, his life, he was unique… Greece was orphaned today.”

Besides the President, the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis posted a photograph with Theodorakis. The PM wrote, “I had the honor 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.” Mitsotakis wrote, “The best way to honor him, a global Greek, is to live by that message. Mikis is our history.”

Born in July 1925, Theodorakis was into music and politics since a young age. Eventually, he took his interest of music to s professional level as he graduated from the Athens Music School in 1950. He further continued his academics in Paris on a scholarship in 1954.

Moreover, Mikis is known to be legendary and an idol not only because of his music, but because he achieved all this even though he and his family suffered a lot during his young years. As mentioned above, Mikis was into music from a tender age. But, the political situation in not only Greece, but the entire world was unrest. It was the time of World War II when Mikis began songwriting as a teenager.

However, due to his leftist political inclination, he had to suffer the wrath of the allies group led by Germany and Italy. As a result, he was imprisoned by the German and Italian invaders as he was involved in left-wing resistance groups. Subsequently, Mikis was sent to remote Greek islands, where he and other prisoners were physically tortured and beaten. In fact, the Academy award winner suffered broken limbs, respiratory problems and other injuries that badly compromised his physical health.

Despite these tortures and struggles, Mikis managed to create a prolific career for himself in the entertainment industry.

As a musician, Mikis has had opportunity to garner the experience with different genres. The composer has worked in almost every genre, from ballet to chamber music and ancient Greek folks. Throughout his thriving and fruitful career, Theodorakis collaborated with some of the great artists, poets, musicians and singers from around the world. The list includes leading poets such as Spain’s Federico Garcia Lorca and the Greek Nobel laureate Odysseas Elytis.

Mikis has also contributed to a music series called “The Ballad of Mauthausen,” which is based on the poems written by a survivor at the Nazi concentration camp named Iakovos Kambanellis. Needless to say, the series describes the horrors and struggles of people’s lives at camp and the Holocaust, which is also considered one of Mikis’ great works.

However, Theodorakis’ popularity grew as his composition “Zorba” earned an Academy Award. On the political front on the other hand, as the tensions grew in Greece in the 1970s due to military dictatorship, Mikis’s works and music were banned. However, the works by Mikis could not be silenced, in fact, his songs became a sign of resistance, which would then be played at the protests and rallies.

Greece’s Communist party ‘KKE’ also stated a few words for the greatest politician Mikis. The party called Theodorakis’s body of work “a constant confrontation with injustice and defeatism, of new struggles and resistance”. They also shared a letter written by Theodorakis to the party, in which he had stated, “I want to leave this world as a Communist.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let's talk

If you want to get a free consultation without any obligations, fill in the form below and we'll get in touch with you.