Gail Holst-Warhaft: Secular and Sacred Mikis Theodorakis and the Politics of Greek Music

Introduction: Mikis Theodorakis became an international celebrity during the Greek dictatorship of 1967-74. Before then he was already a famous composer and political figure in his own country, and known beyond its borders for his film scores, particularly the score of Zorba the Greek. His years of fighting with EAM/ELAS, the Left-wing Greek resistance organization, and of his imprisonment and torture during and after the Civil War had made Theodorakis a political hero to many on the Left in Greece. Having not only survived the notorious prison islands of Ikaria and Makronissos, but persisted in studying and composing music throughout this period, Theodorakis left Greece in 1954 to study composition at the Paris Conservatoire under Olivier Messiaen. He soon made a name for himself and was commissioned to compose film music and a ballet score – Antigone – for Sadlers Wells. He might have remained in Europe as his friend and colleague Xenakis did, renouncing the violent politics of Greece in favor of the increasingly international world of contemporary music. Instead he returned to his own country and became a highly successful composer of „popular“ music and a controversial politico-cultural leader. Given the political climate of Greece in the 1960s, Theodorakis’ decision was a courageous one: he knowingly exposed himself to the risk of persecution and further imprisonment. But Theodorakis was never at home outside Greece. He felt he had a role to play in post-war Greeece as a cultural leader, where his fellow artists and political sympathizers were gradually emerging from exile and imprisonment. …

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedin