Mikis Theodorakis is a world renowned Greek songwriter and composer who was born in Chios in 1925 (29 July 1925).
Theodorakis wrote and performed the music for the movies Zorba the Greek (1964), Z (1969), and Serpico (1973). He is also the composer of the “Mauthausen Trilogy” also known as “The Ballad of Mauthausen”, which has been described by many as the “most beautiful musical work ever written about the Holocaust”. He is considered to be Greece’s best-known composer.
Politically, he is associated with the left because of his long-standing ties to the Communist Party of Greece even though in 1989 he ran as an independent candidate within the center-right party of New Democracy to help the country emerge from the political crisis that had been created due to the numerous scandals of the government of Andreas Papandreou, and helped establish a large coalition between conservatives, socialists, and leftists.
In 1990 he was elected to the parliament (as in 1964 and 1981) and he became a government minister under Constantine Mitsotakis.
He continued to speak out in favor of left and liberal causes, Greek-Turkish-Cypriot relations, and against the War in Iraq. He has consistently opposed oppressive regimes and he was a key voice against the Greek junta (1967-1974), which imprisoned him for many years.
“If I had not experienced what I experienced, I would not have written this music.
Music for me has never been an end in itself, it is something that I have lived.”
Mikis Theodorakis was born on the Greek island of Chios on 29 July 1925 and spent his childhood years in different provincial Greek cities such as Mytilene, Cephallonia, Patras, Pyrgos, and Tripoli. His father, a lawyer and a civil servant, was from the small village of Kato Galatas, Crete and his mother, Aspasia Poulakis, was from an ethnically Greek family in Çeşme, in what is today Turkey. As a youth he was inlfuenced by the Byazntine liturgy and the Greek folks songs and folk music.
This fascination with music began in early childhood as he started talking from a very young age about becoming a composer and he taught himself to write his first songs without access to musical instruments. Theodorakis went to Athens in 1943, in the middle of the war (World War II), to become a member of a Reserve Unit of ELAS (Greek People’s Liberation Army) a leftist guerilla organization, and led a troop in the fight against the British and the Greek right in the Dekemvriana (Greek civil war at the end of Wordl War II). During the Greek Civil War he was arrested, sent into exile on the island of Icaria and then deported to the island of Makronisos, where he was tortured and twice buried alive.