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    Theodorakis, Mikis (29th July 1925-Present)

    He is a composer,author and politician born on the island of Chios, Greece, and raised in several of the country's cities.  He began to become interested in music from a very young age and even though he had no instruments available to use he still managed to write songs for himself.  He received his first music lessons in the cities of Patras and Pyrgos and when he was in Tripolis he decided to become a composer after hearing Beethoven's 9th Symphony and also form a choir.  This "choir" had him as the sole member but undeterred he debuted with a performance in front of the mirror when he was seventeen.  Making further strides into his musical education he entered the Athens Conservatoire and in 1954 started a five-year stay in France where he studied conducting with Eugene Bigot and music analysis at the Paris Conservatoire.  During these years he wrote his first suite and a piano concerto and also his first symphony, which would gain him notice on an international level.  Winning several awards at the same time, he was a Gold Medal winner at the Moscow Music Festival in 1957 and two years later, after his ballet Antigone was performed at London's Covent Garden, Darius Milhaud nominated him for the Best European Composer of the Year for the American Copley Music Prize.   He returned to Greece at the start of the 1960s and composed his "Epitaphios" and several other works where he took much of his influence from the traditional music of his country, which he was concerned was beginning to disappear.  Not going un-noticed by the rest of the world he gained a lot of recognition to the point where he was beginning to be called the greatest living Greek composer.  Very active as a performer he was always giving concerts and within a year or two from his return to Greece he established the Musical Society of Piraeus the Little Orchestra of Athens.   1963 also saw one of his most famous pieces of music being written and becoming a trademark for Greece, "Zorba the Greek".  He started to take an active interest in politics in 1963 following the assassination of Gregoris Lambrakis and put together the Lambrakis Democratic Youth.  He served as their president and the following year became a member of parliament, but this was not without problems as he was soon blacklisted for his ideas that were deemed too radical.  Many of his songs stopped receiving airplay or, at best, were censored.  In 1967 he established the Patriotic Front and this led him being arrested and spending five months in jail and a total ban to people listening to or performing his music.  He and his family were banished to Zatouna in Greece in 1968 and later he found himself in a concentration camp at the town of Oropos.  This was not looked upon well by many of the people in the artistic circles at that time and celebrated names such as Harry Belafonte, Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Miller and Dmitri Shostakovich put together a show of solidarity and after the intervention of Jean-Jacques Servan-Screiber, who was a French politician, he was exiled in Paris from 1970 suffering from tuberculosis.  Not staying down for too long he met many of the worlds top politicians and began performing countless concerts that were his own statement on the fight to see democracy restored to his beloved Greece.  At long last he was allowed back into his home country in 1974 after the dictatorship had been toppled and once again he would be allowed to follow his love of music, giving concerts and politics.  In 1981 he was elected into Parliament for the first time of many over the years.  Still juggling the two careers during the early 1990s he was made General Musical Director of Hellenic Radio and Televisions Symphony Orchestra & Chorus and served from 1990 to 1992 in Constantine Mistotakis as a government minister.  His compositions include symphonic works, cantatas, oratorios, chamber music, ballets, song-cycles, stage music and many film scores.  Recognised for his contribution to music and to his country he has been the recipient of several honorary doctorates, the IMC UNESCO International Music Prize, the Russian International St. Andrew the First Called Prize, the Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music, a Lifetime Achievement Award from World Soundtrack and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000.

     

    Chet Atkins recordings

    Theme from Zorba the Greek (Mikis Theodorakis)                                       

     

    Sources:

    1. http://en.mikis-theodorakis.net/index.php/article/articleview/220/1/16/
    2. http://en.mikis-theodorakis.net/index.php/article/articleview/222/1/16/
    3. http://www.theodorakisstory.gr/
    4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodorakis
    5. http://www.classical-composers.org/comp/theodora
    6. http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0006319/awards
    7. http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0006319/
    8. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:wpfpxqu5ldfe~T1

     

     

     

     

     

     



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