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Mikis Theodorakis

Mikis Theodorakis

Country of origin: Greece
Birthday: July 29, 1925
Date of death: September 2, 2021

About Mikis Theodorakis

Mikis Theodorakis was born on the Greek island of Khios in the Aegean Sea on 29 July 1925. He grew up with Greek folk music and was early influenced by the Byzantine liturgy. Even as a child, he decided to become a composer.
Theodorakis’ life has been characterized by his political commitment to the Greek people and their freedom, by persecution and struggle for survival. His activities as resistance fighter during the occupation of Greece by German, Bulgarian and Italian troops led to his arrest and torture in 1943. The Civil War of 1947-49 to him meant being tortured again and finally banished to the penal colonies of Ikaria and Makronissos, where he barely survived.
From 1945 Theodorakis studied intermittently with Philoktitis Economidis at the Odeion music school and from 1954-1959 with Eugène Bigot and Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire. In 1957 he was awarded the gold medal of the composition competition of the World Festival in Moscow for his ’Suite No.1’ and in 1959 the American Copley Prize for the best European composer. Furthermore he received the first prize of the International Institute of Music in London. During that time, he created ballet musics such as Greek Carnival, Les Amants de Téruel and Antigone in close collaboration with international theatres.
This successful period was interrupted by a bitter cultural struggle in Greece in which right-wing and left-wing groups and factions were engaged in fierce controversies. Theodorakis became one of the leading personalities among the renewers of Greece. After the assassination of the left-wing politician Grigoris Lambrakis in 1963 he founded the Lambrakis Youth and took his seat in the Greek Parliament. During that time, he also notched up great successes and achieved worldwide fame with compositions such as the film music Zorba the Greek and the oratorio Axion Esti. The internal political disturbances of the following years led to the formation of a big and a small junta and their coup d’état. Theodorakis founded the underground movement ’Patriotic Front’. Shortly afterwards, his music was banned, and he was arrested. Theodorakis spent several years in prisons, under house arrest, in exile, as well as 6 months in the concentration of Oropos. He was released in 1970 in response to an international initiative of important artists such as Dmitri Shostakovich, Hanns Eisler and Leonard Bernstein.
Having become a symbol of the European student movement, not least by Zorba the Greek, Theodorakis started to live in exile in Paris from 1970. At concert tours he called for further resistance to the military dictatorship and for the restoration of democracy in his home country where he could return to as a politician in 1974. At that time, his compositional work focussed mainly on numerous large-scale song cycles and oratorios such as Canto General (1972-1975).
It was not until the beginning of the 1980s that he moved back to Paris and fully resumed composing. He began to create increasingly symphonic works, cantatas, oratorios, sacred music and operas such as I Metamorfosis tou Dionisou. In the time that followed, the independent left-winger Mikis Theodorakis was appointed Minister of State in the Conservative government of Mitsotakis, making an educational and cultural reform his particular task from 1990 till 1992 and promoting the reconciliation between Greece and Turkey.
After retreating from politics, he was appointed general music director of the Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of the Hellenic Radio and Television in 1993 and was also in great demand as conductor of his own works. In the years before and after 1990 Theodorakis composed the great lyric tragedies based on classical literature: Medea, Elektra, Antigone. By the end of 1997, he donated his entire collections to the Lilian Voudouri Foundation at the Megaron in Athens.
In 2000 Mikis Theodorakis was proposed as nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize with great support of not only the Greek population and was shortlisted by the Nobel Committee. For his artistic œuvre in the field of film music he has been awarded the Erich Wolfgang Korngold Prize at the International Film Music Biennial in Bonn in 2002. In November 2005 Theodorakis has been awarded the UNESCO prize for arts and music in Aachen/Germany.




Geboren am 29. Juli auf der griechischen Insel Chios
Erste Klavierstücke
Aktionen gegen die deutsch-italienische Besatzungsmacht; erste Verhaftung und Folter
ab 1945
Aufnahme des Studiums am Odeion in Athen bei Philoktitis Economidis mit Unterbrechungen aufgrund politscher Unruhen
Engagement im Bürgerkrieg auf der Seite der linken Befreiungsfront
Verhaftung und Verbannung auf die Insel Ikaria
Komposition einer Reihe von Kammermusikwerken
Deportation auf die Insel Makronisos
Heirat mit Myrto Altinoglu
Studium am Pariser Conservatoire bei Eugène Bigot (Dirigieren) und Olivier Messiaen (Komposition)
Goldmedaille des Kompositionswettbewerbs der Weltfestspiele in Moskau für "Suite Nr. 1 für Klavier und Orchester"

Geburt seiner Tochter Margarita

Copley Music Prize als "bester europäischer Komponist des Jahres"
Erster Preis des International Institute of Music in London
Geburt des Sohnes Giorgos
Rückkehr nach Griechenland
Nach Ermordung des linken Politikers Grigoris Lambrakis gründet Theodorakis die Lambrakis-Jugend und übernimmt dessen Sitz im griechischen Parlament
Parlamentsabgeordneter der Eniea Dimokratiki Aristera ("Vereinigung der Demokratischen Linken")
Musik zum Film "Zorba The Greek" ("Alexis Sorbas") mit Anthony Quinn
Uraufführung des Oratoriums "Axion Esti"
Verleihung des Sibelius-Preises für das Gesamtschaffen
Gefangennahme, anschließend diverse Gefängnisaufenthalte, Hausarrest und Verbannung sowie Verbot seiner Musik in Griechenland während der Militärdiktatur (1967-1974)
Exil in Paris
Weltweite Tournee mit eigener Musik
Uraufführung des Oratoriums "Canto General" in Paris
Rückkehr nach Griechenland nach Fall der Militärdiktatur
Übersiedlung nach Paris
Distanzierung von der kommunistischen Partei
Uraufführung seiner ersten Oper "Die Metamorphosen des Dionysos" in Athen
Gründung der Griechisch-Türkischen Freundschaftsgesellschaft
Konzerte als erster griechischer Komponist in der Türkei
Europatournee mit Zülfü Livaneli
Premiere des Balletts "Zorbas" in der Arena di Verona
Staatsminister ohne Geschäftsbereich
Uraufführung seiner Oper "Medea" in Bilbao
Rückzug aus Staatspolitik
Generalmusikdirektor des Symphonie-Orchesters und Chores des Hellenischen Rundfunks und Fernsehens
Uraufführung der Oper "Electra" in Luxemburg
Uraufführung der Oper "Antigone" in Athen
Nominierung für den Friedensnobelpreis
Erich-Wolfgang-Korngold-Preis für sein künstlerisches Lebenswerk im Bereich Filmmusik
Uraufführung der Oper "Lysistrata" in Athen
Auszeichnung mit dem UNESCO Kunst- und Musikpreis in Aachen
Uraufführung der "Rhapsodie für Trompete und Orchester" in der Kölner Philharmonie
Ernennung zum Ehrenmitglied der Akademie von Athen
Uraufführung der "Rhapsody für Streichorchester" in Athen