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3. Mikis Theodorakis, the world-wide known composer

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3. Mikis Theodorakis, the world-wide known composer

The man

Mikis Theodorakis was born on July 29, 1925

in the island of Chios His family used to move from place to place

constantly and lived in various places of Greece, such as Syros, Limnos, Mytilini,Crete, Chios.

When Mikis was six they were living in Ghiannenna. When he was nine in Kefallonia and in Patras in 1937. When Mikis was fifteen, in the summer of 1940, he was living in Tripolis where he spent the hard years of the German conquest, until 1943

with his father

with his mother

In 1943 Mikis met Myrto Altinoglou, an active member of the Young People Resistance Assossiation, who became his wife ten years later

Mikis’ wife

In 1958 their daughter Margarita was born and two years later, in 1960 their son Ghiorgos was born.

With his children

During the summer of 1962 Mikis got ill with tuberculosis and had to spend two months in the sanatorium “Edward VII” in London and another two months in another sanatorium near Athens.

Today he is 84 years old, he lives in Athens, the capital of Greece, is held in highest esteem and enjoys the love and the appreciation of the whole nation. Mikis Theodorakis is totally related to the social, political and cultural progress of modern Greece.

He has never stopped reminding us all that -no matter what the circumstances are- we should never give up thinking freely, singing and hoping for the best.


He was deeply affected by ideals like freedom, liberty of people, equality and solidarity.

And Mikis himself is a representative of a whole nation’s ideals and dreams, beyond political approaches and differences.

His character was influenced by his father’s stories about Greek Mythology and History.

His revolutionary action

In 1943 he was arrested and tortured by the Italians. After the Greek liberation the Greek Civil War takes place. Mikis was persecuted by the Greek authorities because of his beliefs. For a short time he lived as an outlaw in Athens without stopping his activities in the National Resistance.
He eventually got arrested and was sent to the exile on the island of Ikaria first and then to Makronissos, the known as “Camp of death”.

Mikis in the Hospital


in the Greek Parliament
At the same time Mikis was also elected Member of the Parliament with the Party of the Greek Democratic Struggle.

In 1963 after the assassination of Gregory Lambrakis, Member of the Greek Parliament and the Greek Communist Party, a new Organization was founded in his memory, President of which Mikis Theodorakis was elected.

In 1967 when dictators began to rule Greece-after a coop- Mikis became an outlaw once more and fights against the dictatorship, creating with other patriots the first revolutionary organization and was elected as its President.

He was arrested in 1967 and was imprisoned in a high security jail where he went on a long-term hunger strike. As a result he was taken to hospital and then he was released.

However he had to stay strictly at home and later on, since he was still considered very dangerous by the authorities, he was expelled to a camp along with his family away from their residence


All this time he didn’t stop composing. He managed to send some of his songs abroad and they were performed by famous singers like Melina Merkouri, Manos Chatzidakis and Maria Farandouri.

With Melina Merkouri

With Manos Chatzidakis

With Maria farantouri

As a result lots of protesting took place abroad, claiming Mikis’ freedom. Important persons such as Dimitri Sostakovich, Arthur Miller, Laurence Olivier, Yves Montand etc. formed Committees to support him.

After all this struggle in favor of Mikis, the Greek government decided to free him. He moved to Paris with his family in 1970.

Mikis in Paris

With F. Mitteran

When he was abroad he spent all his time going on tours all around the world, giving concerts with his songs, meeting leaders of various countries, making anti-dictatorship statements and trying to persuade the whole world that democracy should go back to Greece, the country which invented it

His concerts have become inspiration for other depressed peoples as well: Spanish, Portuguese, Iranians, Palestinians.

In 1974, when dictatorship ended and democracy was re-established in Greece, Mikis went back to his country. He had a dynamic participation in the political situation as a Member of the Parliament twice and once as a Minister.

Mikis, the musician

His first steps in music

Although he was very young he became the conductor of the choir of Santa Barbara Church in Tripolis, Peloponnese, where he lived at the time. Later he composed a remarkable religious hymn, the lyrics of which Kassiani-the famous poet- wrote and he presented it to the audience of Tripolis.

Everybody was astonished by the work of 17 year old Mikis.

In 1943 he fled to Athens where he joined the National Resistance and fought against the German occupation.

At the same time he was studying Music in the Conservatory of Athens. In 1950 he graduated having got Diplomas of Harmony, Counterpoint and Fugue.

In 1954 he won a scholarship in the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied Musical Analysis, having Olivier Messiaen as a tutor and also Orchestra Conducting, having Eugène Bigot as a Professor.

The composer

The period 1954-1960 was very productive for him as far as European music is concerned. He composed music for the shows of the Ballets of Ludmila Tcherina, Covent Garden, Stuttgart Ballet and also for films. At the same time Mikis composed a lot of symphonic music.

In 1957 he won the first prize of Moscow Festival for his work “Suite No 1 for piano and orchestra”.Shostakovich himself awarded him.

With Ghiannis Ritsos

In 1960 he returned to Greece. He had already composed music for “Epitaph” of Ghiannis Ritsos, the world-wide known poet, a work which shows that Mikis had made a turn to popular music.
He then composed hundreds of songs which strongly appealed to Greek people.

He established the Minor Symphonic Orchestra of Athens and gave concerts all over Greece in order to make people familiar with the masterpieces of classical music.

In the ΄80s and ΄90s he lived in both Athens and Paris, writing new songs and symphonic music.

In 1993 he was appointed as General Manager and Conductor of the Orchestra and the Choir of the Public Radio and Television.

With Ritsos, Farantouri, Ntalaras

With Mpithikotsis

The musician-his achievements

Mikis Theodorakis composed all kinds of music: operas, symphonic music, oratorio, ballet music, religious music, music for ancient Greek plays, for modern plays, for films, etc.

He has also written a lot of books which have been translated to many languages.

His albums:

Children’s songs, Epitaph, Epiphania,Small Cyclades, Mounthausen, Romancero Gitano, Sea moons,The sun and the time, Death night, Arcadias,Songs of the Struggle, Andreas’ songs,18 Couplets,Ballads, In the East, the lyrical songs, Serenades, Greetings, Dionysus, Phaedra, A sea full of music.

Music for plays:

The song of the dead brother, Homer, Enemy people, Betrayed people, Kapodistrias, Christopher Columbus, Pericles, Mac Beth, The beast of Tavros, The tree’s name was not Patience.

Music for ancient Greek plays:

Orestia, Agamemnon, Evmenides, Choiphori, Antigoni, Hippies, Lysistrati, Prometheus imprisoned, Oedipus tyrant, Ekavi, Iketides, Troads, Aeas.

Music for films:

Zorba the Greek, Z, Sherpico, Iphigenia, Ζορμπάς, Ζ, Electra, Soutieska (Tito), Phaedra, When the fish got out of the sea, In a state of siege, Actas de Marusia.


Axion esti, Margarita, Epiphania Averof, In a state of siege, Spiritual March, Requiem, Canto Cheneral, Mass for children-victims in war.

Music for ballets:

Lovers of Terruel


Ζοrba the Greek


Kariotakis (The transfigurations of Dionnyssus),





Mikis’s struggle for peace and humanitarianism

In 1972 he visited Israel and gave concerts. He met Israeli and Palestinian representatives and was a mediator between the warring parts

He also visited Algeria, Egypt, Tunis, Lebanon and Syria, trying to promote peace in the area.

Mikis, the peace maker

In 1976 he founded the club “Culture for Peace” and gave lectures and concerts all over Greece.
In 1983 he was awarded with the Lenin Prize for Peace.

In 1986 Committees for Greek-Turkish friendship were created. Mikis Theodorakis was the President and a lot of Turkish intellectuals became their members, like Aziz Nessin,Yaser Kemal and Zulfi Livanelli.

Mikis gave a number of concerts in Turkey in order to promote our friendship. The audience were mostly young people.
Later on he had the role of the not formal Ambassador of peace, and was carrying messages from the Greek Prime Ministers, Andreas Papandreou and Konstantinos Mitsotakis to the Turkish Government.

Mikis and Peace

He is the prompter of peace in the world, one of the mediators οf friendship between Greece and Turkey.

Mikis, the humanist

In 1986, after the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, Russia, Mikis gave concerts all over Europe against nuclear weapons

Mikis, the universal mind

In 1988 after Mikis’s initiative two world conventions about peace were held in Tübingen and in Koeln.Great personalities took part in them. Politicians such as Oscar Lafontain and Johannes Rau, philosophers like Dürrenmatt, writers, artists and political analysts

In 1990 Mikis gave 36 concerts throughout Europe, sponsored by the Amnesty International.

He kept up with good work giving more concerts in favor of protection of the environment (sponsored by Εurosolar), against illiteracy, against drugs and other social problems

For the last twenty years Mikis has developed great activity all around the world (Europe, America and South Africa) about helping people. He is an enthusiastic supporter of promoting solutions concerning all important matters and problems which exist in modern societies.

Some οf his Mikis’s words :

  • Music is universal. It’s an evidence which panders to every man!”

  • I trust music. I trust its truth.”

  • To me music is the ultimate need, it’s the reason I exist. I am nothing but a composer”

  • I’ m just a composer who does what every citizen of the world should do. Nothing more, nothing less…”

Project by the Comenius team of Music School of Karditsa, Greece

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