Mikis Theodorakis, the famous Greek composer of “Zorba the Greek”, “Z” and “Serpico” and one of the most politically active composers of all the twentieth century, died at his home in Athens on Thursday. He was 96 years old.
The cause of death has been listed as cardiopulmonary arrest on his official website. Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said on Twitter: “Today we have lost a part of the Greek soul. “Mikis Theodorakis, Mikis teachers, intellectuals, fundamentalists, our Mikis are gone.”
Theodorakis’ color score for 1Z’s “Zorba the Greek” starring Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates was an international hit (his soundtrack album reached the top of Billboard’s album charts) with his contagious “Zorba Dance” and his brilliant Greek instruments. It was nominated for a Grammy and a Golden Globe. The dance became known as Sirtaki and was covered numerous times, including the “forced dance” Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.
As director Michael Cacouanis said at the time, “Theodorakis succeeded in creating music that evoked such internal excitement and excitement to match the glorious humiliation of a strong soul.” They made five more films, including an adaptation of classic literature (“Electra” in 1962, “The Trojan Women” in 1971, “Ifigenia” in 1I), and a contemporary comedy (“The Day the Fish Come Out,” 1977). A Bible Story for Television (“The Story of Jacob and Joseph,” 1974).
Theodorakis’ political activities later inspired film-music masterpieces. He was elected to the Greek parliament three times, first as a leftist candidate in 1965 and because of his outspoken nature the military junta that took power in 1967 banned his music; He was imprisoned, then held in a concentration camp, and deported in 1970 – after international pressure from artists including Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Miller and Harry Bellafonte.
Costa-Gavras, a Greek-French film director, emphasized his music for the 1969 political thriller “Z”, based on the 1967 assassination of political thriller Greek anti-war activist Grigoris Lombrakis. Theodorakis secretly wrote an interesting score, the music was smuggled and served in Paris; It won the BAFTA as the best scorer of the year in 1970.
Costa-Gavras reunites with Theodorakis for another 1972 political thriller, Score of the State, about terrorist abductions in South America; One of his most provocative scores is the use of the traditional thematic Latin American folk instrument composer. And in 1973, Theodorakis wrote the music for Sidney Lumet’s “Serpico” about corruption in the New York City Police Department. Both scores were BAFTA nominated; “Serpico” also received a Grammy nomination under the management of American jazz artist Bob James.
After the fall of Greek military rule, Theodorakis returned to Greece in 1974, continuing both his musical career and his political activities. He was re-elected to the Greek parliament in 1981 (as a communist) and 1989 (as a Democrat), and in the 1990s he became general music director of the Hellenic Radio and Television Orchestra. And while he continued to score occasionally in European films, most of his music was in the classical realm, with several symphony, opera, and song cycles.
He was born in 1925 on the Greek island of Chios in the Aegean Sea. He studied music at the Athens Conservatory in the 1940s and later on a state scholarship in Paris in the early 1950s. His early works, including a piano concerto written in the late 1950s, a symphony and four ballets, received international acclaim (including a gold medal at the 1957 Moscow Music Festival).
Theodorakis’ other scores for notable directors for British filmmaker Michael Powell and American Pressberger in 155 in were “I Met by Moonlight”; “Fedra” for Jules Dassin in 1962; And “Five Miles to Midnight” for Anatole Litvak in 1962.
Nothing was said immediately about the survivors.