Symbol of the resistance to the dictatorship of the colonels and famous for the music of “Zorba the Greek”, the great Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis died in Athens at the age of 96, sources at the hospital where he was hospitalized reported Thursday.
Although he rose to world fame for the 1964 film starring Anthony Quinn, Theodorakis is the author of a prolific work that ranges from symphonies to oratorios and includes an important contribution to the renewal of popular music.
As for film soundtracks, he composed about twenty, among others those of “Z”, “Estado de Siege” and “Sérpico”.
He had suffered from heart problems for a few years and had to be hospitalized.
“Mikis Theodorakis now passes into eternity. His voice has been silenced and with it all Hellenism,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday, declaring three days of national mourning.
“Today we have lost a part of the soul of Greece. Mikis Theodorakis, our Mikis, the teacher, the intellectual, the resistant, is gone. The one who made all the Greeks sing to the poets,” added the Greek Minister of Culture, Lina Mendoni.
The President of the Republic, Eikaterini Sakellaropoulou, praised a “great Greek and universal creator, an inestimable value for all our musical culture who dedicated his life to music, art, our country, and its inhabitants, to the ideas of freedom, justice, equality, and solidarity “.
Born on July 29, 1925, in Chios, in the Aegean, in a family of Cretan origin, Mikis Theodorakis participated at a very young age in the resistance against the Nazis and over the years it became a kind of national monument in Greece.
Active with the communists during the civil conflict that erupted in Greece after World War II, he was deported to the prison island of Makrónisos, where he was tortured. After this he left for Paris to study at the conservatory.
Back in Athens, he became involved with Grigoris Lambrakis, a deputy of the left-wing EDA party, assassinated in November 1963 in Thessaloniki by the extreme right with the complicity of the state apparatus. The film “Z” by Costa Gavras is precisely dedicated to this case.
Theodorakis was detained since the beginning of the colonels’ dictatorship, which began on April 21, 1967.
Amnestied a year later, he led an underground movement and was placed under house arrest. His popularity did not stop growing and, in an attempt to silence him, the colonels once again imprisoned him and banned his work.
He became a symbol of resistance to the dictatorship and the junta was finally forced to let him go, to Paris, under pressure from the international community.
When the dictatorship fell in 1974, a crowd greeted him on July 24 at the Athens airport chanting his name.
At that time he decided to provide surprising support to Constantin Caramanlis, the right-wing statesman who will organize the return of democracy. A phrase attributed to him: “Caramanlis or the tanks”, for a long time provoked the anger of his left-wing comrades.
During the financial crisis that affected Greece a few years ago, he spoke out against the austerity measures imposed by the country’s creditors (European Central Bank, European Union and International Monetary Fund).
In 2012, he received tear gas when protesting in front of the parliament in Athens.
In recent years, Theodorakis militated against the agreement signed by Greece and Macedonia on the new name of the neighboring country, which became North Macedonia.
The composer was married to Myrto, his lifelong companion, and had two children, Marguerite and Georges.