The Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis died last week at the age of ninety-six. A political radical who became a national hero and then came into wider recognition with his scoring of the film of Zorba the Greek (from the book by Nikos Kazantzakis) and other films like Z and Serpico.
Who will ever forget the moment in the film of Zorba, where Alan Bates, the buttoned up young businessman says to Zorba, ‘Teach me to dance.’ and Anthony Quinn as Zorba begins to dance to the music of the bouzouki.
I still feel that same lift of joy when I hear that music I felt all those years ago.
And then later on, to travel to Greece, and on the island of Thassos, with my friend SPR, to learn the dance ourselves.
And now many years later to be in a community orchestra where we play Zorba and the wonderful song from the Lorca poem Canto General.
Farewell Theodorakis. You were a great man and will always be part of my life.
The original sirtaki Zorbas – Mikis Theodorakis
Maria Farantouri – Algunas Bestias (Canto General) 1991
And if you’re in Australia Andrew Ford has a wonderful interview in last week’s Music Show (see below)
Greece’s government have declared three days of national mourning after the death of composer Mikis Theodorakis. He was the composer of Zorba the Greek, but he was also a Marxist activist in exile, a government minister, and a revolutionary composer of uniquely Hellenic music that broke down barriers between classical and folk traditions. Neos Kosmos journalist Fotis Kapetopoulos, whose father kept Theodorakis records under his floorboards during the Greek junta, joins Andrew Ford to explain his unique position in Greek culture.