Greece’s greatest music composer in history, Mikis Theodorakis, whose music has touched generations of people worldwide, died on Thursday at the age of 96 in Athens, after years of suffering from a heart condition.
Theodorakis was born on July 29 in 1925, on the island of Chios. The talented songwriter and composer wrote over 1000 songs and is viewed as Greece’s best-known composer of all time.
As a child, Theodorakis taught himself to write songs without having any access to musical instruments and performed his first concert at the age of 17.
An active resistance fighter during World War II, Theodorakis studied at the conservatories in both Athens and Paris and wrote several symphonies during the late ’50s but later returned to Greece to apply his musical knowledge to traditional Greek music, which he was most passionate about.
His first symphonic works, Concerto for Piano, First Suite, and First Symphony were internationally acclaimed and in 1957 Theodorakis won the Gold Medal in the Moscow Music Festival. Also, 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.
Having written many symphonies, ballets, and operas, his most popular songs include “Zorba the Greek,” for which he won a Grammy award. His work has also been performed by legendary artists including The Beatles and Shirley Bassey. Theodorakis composed the scores in films including Z (1969), which won the BAFTA Prize for original music, Phaedra (1962), and Serpiko (1973), for which he was nominated for a Grammy in 1975.