Theodorakis, Mikis (actually, Michael George)

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Theodorakis, Mikis (actually, Michael George)

Theodorakis, Mikis (actually, Michael George), prominent Greek composer; b. Chios, July 29, 1925. He studied at the Athens Cons. During the German occupation of his homeland, he was active in the resistance. After the liberation, he joined the Left but was arrested and deported during the civil war. In 1953 he went to Paris and studied with Messiaen, and soon after he began to compose. After returning to Greece in 1961, he resumed his political activities and served as a member of Parliament in 1963. Having joined the Communist Party, he was arrested after the military coup in 1967 and incarcerated. During this period, he wrote the music for the film Z, dealing with the police murder of the Socialist politician Gregory Lambrakis in Salonika in 1963. The film and the music were greatly acclaimed in Europe and the U.S., and the fate of Theodorakis became a cause célèbre. Yielding to pressure from international public opinion, the military Greek government freed Theodorakis in 1970. In 1972 he quit the Communist Party and was active in the United Left; returning to the Communist Party, he served in Parliament in 1981 and again in 1985-86 before quitting it once more. In 1989 he became an ambassador of conservatism in Greece, going so far as to enter the race for the legislature on the New Democracy ticket; with 416 like-minded painters, writers, musicians, singers, and actors, Theodorakis signed his name to a manifesto (Nov. 3, 1989) condemning the divisive policies of the former Socialist government of Andreas Papandreou; he also ended 4 years of musical silence by appearing on an Athens stage before a crowd of 70,000 people, singing songs of protest and love in the name of national unity. From 1990 to 1992 he served in the Greek government as a Minister without Portfolio. In 1993 he became general director of the orch. and chorus of the Greek State Radio in Athens. His 4-vol. autobiography was publ. in Athens (1986-88).


dramatic: Opera: Kostas Kariotakis (1985); Zorbas, ballet-opera (1988); Medea (1990); Elektra (1993); Antigone (Athens, Oct. 7, 1999). Ballet: Carnaval (1953; rev. as Le Feu aux Poudres, 1958); Les Amants de Teruel (1958); Antigone (1958); Antigone II (1971); Elektra (1976); Mythologie (1976); Zorba (1976); 7 danses grecques (1982). Also incidental music to various dramas; film scores, including Zorba the Greek (1962) and Z (1973). ORCH.: Assi-Gonia (1945-50); Oedipus Tyrannus (1946; also for Strings, 1955); 8 syms., including No. 1 (1948-50), No. 2 for Piano, Children’s Chorus, and Orch. (1958), No. 3 for Soprano, Chorus, and Orch. (1980), No. 4 for 2 Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1986), No. 7 for 4 Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1983), and No. 8, Canto Olympico (1991); 3 suites: No. 1 for Piano and Orch. (1954), No. 2 for Chorus and Orch. (1956), and No. 3 for Soprano, Chorus, and Orch. (1956); Piano Concerto (1957). CHAMBER: Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1947); Flute Sextet (1948); 2 violin sonatinas (1955, 1958); various piano pieces. VOCAL: L’Amour et la mort for Mezzo-soprano and String Orch. (1948); Axion Esti for 2 Baritones, Speaker, Chorus, and Orch. (1960); Epiphanie Averof for Soloist, Chorus, and Piano (1968); Canto General, oratorio for 2 Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1971-74); Sadoukeon Passion, cantata for Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Speaker, Chorus, and Orch. (1982); Phaedra, 12 songs for 2 Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1983); Requiem for 4 Soloists, Chorus, and Children’s Chorus (1984); Dionysos, religious drama for Voice, Chorus, and Chamber Ensemble (1984); also choruses and songs.


J. Coubard, M. T.(Paris, 1969); G. Giannaris, M. T: Music and Social Change (London, 1973); G. Host, T.: Myth and Politics in Modern Greek Music (Amsterdam, 1981).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Theodorakis, Mikis (actually, Michael George)

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