Mikis Theodorakis, music composer for the movie Zorba the Greek, dies at the age of 96


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The famous Greek composer, Mikis Theodorakis, who composed the music for the 1964 film Zorba the Greek, has died in the capital, Athens, at the age of 96.

Theodorakis participated in the resistance to the Nazi occupation of Greece in World War II and later became a Member of Parliament.

He was also a leading figure opposing military rule in Greece between 1967 and 1974.

Zorba the Greek tells the story of an English writer on the island of Crete whose life changes when he meets a friendly peasant named, Alexis Zorba.

The scene in which Zorba dances barefoot on the beach has become a common image of Greek culture. The theme of the film, which won three Oscars, remains the most popular Greek musical piece more than half a century later.


“Today we lost part of the soul of Greece,” Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni wrote on Twitter, describing Theodorakis as “the one who made all Greeks sing poetry.”

Theodorakis also composed the music for the 1973 film Serpico, and a song called Mathhausen Trilogy, which was based on poems by a concentration camp survivor.

Antonis’ song from that movie became popular with Afghans. It was sung by Kabul residents in 2001 as they welcomed the Northern Alliance forces that entered the city and expelled the Taliban.

The song itself was the subject of the 1969 film Z, whose soundtrack won a BAFTA Award for Best Musical in 1970. The film, directed by Costa-Gavras, tells the fictional story of the assassination of a left-wing Greek politician.

In the 1960s, Theodorakis recorded Bold of Mauthausen for the Greek section of the BBC World Service.

In the 1960s, Theodorakis recorded Bold of Mauthausen for the Greek section of the BBC World Service.

Theodorakis was known as a leftist and at times a communist. Because of his political leanings, he was arrested and tortured in 1947, during the civil war that followed World War II.

The BBC’s Costas Kalergis said Theodorakis expressed the will to fight fascism and the sense of freedom Greeks felt after the fall of the junta in 1974.

Theodorakis’ songs have always been highly political. He was repeatedly imprisoned for his beliefs and was sent into exile within Greece.

He was known for his political activism throughout his life. In 2010, he joined popular protests against government-imposed austerity measures, and called for Germany to pay reparations to Greece for its wartime occupation.

He also strongly opposed the deal that ended the 27-year dispute over the name of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, now North Macedonia.

Kalergis added that Theodorakis was leaning to the right at the end of the 1980s and had served as a minister in a right-wing government, but that he had always been a prominent figure for all Greeks, both left and conservative.


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