Mikis Theodorakis was born on July 29 in 1925, on the Greek island of Chios.
The famous Greek songwriter and composer has written over 1000 songs and is viewed as Greece’s best-known living composer.
Fascinated by music as a child, he taught himself to write his first songs without having any access to musical instruments. When he visited Pyrgos and Patras, he took his first music lessons, and in Tripolis, he formed a choir and gave his first concert at the age of 17.
His first symphonic works, Concerto for Piano, First Suite, First Symphony, were internationally acclaimed. In 1957 he won the Gold Medal in the Moscow Music Festival and in 1959, Darius Milhaud proposed him for the American Copley-Music Prize as the Best European Composer of the Year after the performances of his ballet “Antigone” at Covent Garden.
An active resistance fighter during World War II, he studied at the conservatories in both Athens and Paris. Theodorakis wrote several symphonies during the late ’50s but later returned to Greece to apply his musical knowledge to the traditional Greek music he’d grown up with.
He wrote many symphonies, cantatas, several ballets, and operas, plus popular songs including “Zorba the Greek.” When 1967 brought a fascist government into Greece, he went underground and formed a revolutionary group to combat abuses, as there was a national ban on playing or even listening to his music. He was later arrested, exiled, and sent to an internment camp, though the work of a global solidarity movement -led by Leonard Bernstein, Dmitri Shostakovich, Arthur Miller, and Harry Belafonte, helped secure his release in 1970.
Still exiled from his country, Theodorakis served as the greatest ambassador of Greek music during the 1970s, playing thousands of concerts across the world. After the government toppled, he served as a member of the new parliament, also working as general music director of the symphony orchestra and chorus of the Hellenic Radio and Television.
In June 2017 a one-thousand-member choir directed by Panagis Barbatis and 50,000 spectators paid tribute to the Greek legendary composer at the Panathenaic stadium before the largest ever assembled choir in Greece.
Last year, thousands of Greeks and non-Greeks from around the world attended Kallimarmaro, to honour Greek music composer Mikis Theodorakis, in a spectacular concert.
Upon Theodorakis’ arrival at the stage, the great artist received a warm prolonged applause and standing ovation from attendees.
Two hundred outstanding artists, musicians and singers from the various choirs performed Theodorakis’ musical masterpieces and most loved songs. The concert reflected the particularly difficult period Greece has endured and borrows its title from one of Theodorakis’ popular songs, “You are Greek! What you were, you will be once again”.
Today he turns 95, Xronia Polla, Happy Birthday to a true Greek music legend!