Greek veteran composer and political activist Mikis Theodorakis, who was instrumental in raising global awareness of Greece’s plight during the 1967-74 military dictatorship, has died at the age of 96.
Born on the island of Chios, on 29 July 1925, he studied music in Athens and later Paris.
His work ranges from rousing songs based on major Greek poetic works, many of which remain left-wing anthems for decades, to symphonies and film scores.
He composed perhaps the most recognizable Greek music internationally, the syrtaki from the film “Zorba the Greek” (1964), while his songs were performed by famous artists, such as The Beatles, Shirley Bassey and Edith Piaf. He composed the scores in films such as “Z” (1969), which won the BAFTA Prize for original music, “Phaedra” (1962), which included songs with lyrics by Nikos Gatsos, and “Serpiko” (1973), for which he was nominated for a Grammy in 1975 (he claimed the same award for his music “Zorba the Greek” in 1966).
Theodorakis also composed the “Mauthausen Trilogy” — also known as “The Ballad of Mauthausen”, and the “Mauthausen Cantata” — a cycle of four arias with lyrics based on poems written by Greek poet Iakovos Kambanellis, a Mauthausen concentration camp survivor.