A farewell to Mikis Theodorakis (1925-2021)

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Dimitrios Papadimoulis is vice chairman of the European Parliament and head of the SYRIZA delegation.

Particularly in the present day, phrases of farewell should not simple to put in writing. Folks like Mikis Theodorakis should not born nor do they die daily.

A composer, an anti-fascist, a Zorba, a peace fighter, a Greek, a communist — the world owes him loads. We Greeks owe him loads. And everybody is aware of why. As a result of everybody has danced to his music or sung his songs. Because of him, the Greeks realized of their nice poets, via his songs with lyrics by Yiannis Ritsos (Lenin Peace Prize 1976), Giorgos Seferis (Nobel Prize in Literature 1963), Odysseus Elytis (Nobel Prize in Literature 1979) and even Pablo Neruda (Nobel Prize in Literature 1971). In 2000, he himself was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mikis not solely outlined an period, he got here out of this period itself. As a younger man, he didn’t reside in instances of democracy. He lived as an outlaw and member of the resistance in opposition to the German occupiers. Counting backwards earlier than the restoration of the republic, he lived below dictatorship, post-civil struggle Greece, exile, civil struggle and Nazi occupation. He suffered exile, jail, censorship, torture and humiliation, starvation and loss.

The political historical past of Greece itself is embodied in his face. His live performance on the fall of the junta of the colonels. His music for the movie “Z” by Costa-Gavras, the symphonic work he composed whereas in exile on Makronisos and the nationwide anthem of Palestine below Yasser Arafat. The music “We’re two, we’re three,” which he sang with rapture together with the folks at his live shows.

His music has been a companion in my life for the reason that first time I keep in mind listening to his songs, once I was 6 or 7 years previous. Underneath the junta, we whispered his lyrics in secret. That’s as a result of Mikis’s songs had been banned in 1967. Not simply sure songs, however all of them. You weren’t allowed to sing any of those songs, not even those who had no political content material.

Some had been love lyrics by the best Greek poets, others had been merely lyrical; all of them had been fantastic within the “Greekness” they exuded and the sense of freedom that resonated in them. If you happen to had been heard singing even certainly one of their verses in public, it was sufficient so that you can be arrested and brought to the police.

However we, younger schoolchildren after which college students, sang them secretly in our gatherings and for our first loves. Through the anti-dictatorship rebellion on the Athens Polytechnic in November 1973, Mikis’s songs turned for us an act of resistance. We had been now singing them overtly on the street, and so they may very well be heard loudly over the audio system. With them, we younger folks urged the folks to revolt for the autumn of the junta.

After that fall lastly got here, I met Mikis for the primary time and shook his hand at a gathering of the United Left in 1974, when he was elected as a deputy from the working-class neighborhoods of Piraeus. I nonetheless keep in mind his magnetic character and the humility he exuded.

For our technology, Mikis was our dwelling connection and our human contact with the Left. He dressed musically, educationally and culturally the trail of our complete technology. And personally, he was one of many two individuals who outlined me, at a time when as a younger man I used to be in search of my political orientation. The opposite particular person was Manolis Glezos, the left-wing politician, journalist and image of resistance in opposition to each the Nazis and the junta.

Years later, on the time of the memoranda that introduced Greece to its knees, I visited Mikis within the hospital the place he was being handled for a critical well being difficulty, one of many many he had towards the top of his life.

I shook his hand, he shortly brushed previous my needs for restoration and wished to show the dialog to politics. I keep in mind him asking in regards to the plans of Syriza and our chief Alexis Tsipras, as we had been then on our strategy to governing the nation. He declared, with that indomitable fighter spirit that has all the time characterised him, his optimism that he would quickly be thriving once more to contribute to our nation’s combat in opposition to the guardianship of the Troika.

At this time Mikis is the Mikis of all. At this time, the radio stations will cease taking part in their mainstream playlists for some time, and his music will likely be heard once more — “Axion Esti” and “Small Cyclades.”

Condensing the fashionable historical past of Greece in a means distinctive within the twentieth century, his music managed to unite Greeks in its splendor, defining us nationally, politically, aesthetically and existentially. Even those that persecuted him know his work — maybe particularly them.

We are going to keep in mind him and reward him in eternity.

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