A short tribute to Mikis Theodorakis: The global musical voice of Greece went silent
Mikis Theodorakis was a monumental composer whose personality and prowess left their indelible mark on 20th century Greek and world music
Mikis Theodorakis was a world-famous composer whose popularity extended far beyond the borders of his home country, Greece.
Theodorakis started his career and excelled as a classical music composer. However, his musical brilliance was noticed by the world and earned him a place in the hall of fame of movie soundtrack composers, when he wrote the music for the film: “Zorba the Greek”.
Through the years, other Greek artists, such as Demis Roussos, Vangelis (Papathanasiou), and Yianni, to name a few, have come to prominence in the global music industry. Mikis Theodorakis is perhaps recognized even by them as a leading figure among Greek musicians and composers of the world, since Theodorakis was a class of his own.
The influence of left-wing views on the work of Theodorakis
The political views of Mikis Theodorakis clearly belonged to the Left, although he collaborated with Nea Demokratia, a center-right party, at some point later in his life.
He composed and provided numerous musical scores for songs with a strong political or even revolutionary message.
Nevertheless, in my opinion, there is a huge risk that lurks, if one attempts to evaluate the endless musical talent of Mikis Theodorakis solely through a political lens.
For example, a supporter of the Left would probably be biased in favor of Theodorakis, based on the latter’s extensive range of songs and music that served as the flag bearers for various Left movements and parties in Greece.
It wouldn’t be far from the truth to say that, for decades, whatever Theodorakis wrote and composed was worshiped (and still is) by people who identified themselves with the Left, not only in Greece, but all over the world.
Would those people who were avid listeners of his music be equally enthusiastic and supportive, if the songs of Theodorakis had no words? Would they be able to appreciate his musical creations as highly? Perhaps some of them would, but I believe that the majority of the masses who flocked to his concerts and bought his records would not have appreciated his classical oriented music as much.
As a result, although the connection and identification of Theodorakis with the Left boosted the popularity and appeal of his compositions to an extent beyond any belief, in pure musical terms, the value of his work could have been appreciated even more, if it had been seen in a light free from political associations.
What the political opponents of Theodorakis missed
If his fans contributed hugely to his wide recognition and popularity, the political opponents of Theodorakis, who even imprisoned and tortured him for his radical communist views, did their best to make his songs illegal to listen to.
They didn’t care to listen to his pieces of art; they simply wanted to mute his voice that conveyed communist messages.
However, in this way, they missed the opportunity to appreciate what artists and musicians in the rest of the world had rated as top-class music.
More than anything else, Mikis Theodorakis was a prolific composer.
Many years afterwards, even his opponents could not but recognize his musical genius and superiority as a composer and key figure in modern Greek and world music.
Mikis Theodorakis won in the end.
He was one of the few personalities who managed to earn recognition from both his friends and enemies.
Theodorakis was a personality bigger than life, and although he passionately served certain causes, no limits or restrictions could confine his free-thinking spirit that lived and breathed music.
Of course, he didn’t defeat death, even though he passed away at the age of 96, which means that he lived a full life, to say the least.
It is his “children, his masterpieces, however, that have earned him a place in eternity.
Mikis Theodorakis, thank you for wonderful music. RIP.
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