“Zorba the Greek” music composer Mikis Theodorakis has died at the age of 96
Composer Mikis Theodorakis, whose contagious and earthy score from the film “Zorba the Greek” helped give a sunny and carefree image of his country to millions of tourists, died Thursday at the age of 96.
As news of his passing swept the country, Parliament observed a minute of silence.
“Today we have lost part of the soul of Greece. Mikis Theodorakis, Mikis the teacher, the intellectual, the radical, our Mikis is gone,” said Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni.
An imposing man with sullen eyes and wavy hair, Theodorakis evoked a progressive and democratic vision of communism and the world through his music.
But his political struggles, including imprisonment and torture for his leftist views, reflected another side of Greece rarely seen by visitors.
His compositions ranged from the soundtrack of the 1964 film – an international hit starring Anthony Quinn as the adorable thug who dances barefoot on a Cretan beach – to the thumping intensity of “Romiosini” (Grecness), a series of catchy songs of identity and resistance.
“His work was a constant confrontation with injustice and defeatism, new struggles and resistance,” Greek Communist Party KKE said in a statement.
His tunes grew in popularity, becoming hymns of the left and disapproval of the right, meaning they were often banned.
Accused of sympathy for the guerrillas in the war between right-wing royalists and popular left-wing forces after World War II, he was arrested and tortured in July 1947.
Legendary Greek composer and pro-democracy icon Mikis Theodorakis passed away earlier today.
He will be dearly missed, but his musical legacy will live on for centuries. pic.twitter.com/eGUnNgjLN3
– The Greek Analyst (@GreekAnalyst) September 2, 2021
Under the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974, he was again imprisoned and tortured.
Later in his life he served two terms in Parliament, for very different parties.
“I am not a Communist or a Social Democrat or anything. I am a free man,” he once told Reuters in an interview.