Mikis Theodorakis (1925-2021)

Mikis (Michail) Theodorakis (Chios, July 29, 1925 – Athens, September 2, 2021) has been one of the most prominent Greek composers of the 20th century. A graduate of the Athens Conservatoire (Odeion Athinon), he studied with a scholarship at the Paris Conservatory (The Conservatoire de Paris), next to Olivier Messiaen and Eugène Bigot. In 1957 he was awarded the first prize by Dmitry Shostakovich at the Moscow International Festival of Young Composers for his work Suite No. 1, for piano and orchestra. Two years later he received the Copley Music Prize at the suggestion of Darius Mihaud. Since his return to Greece in 1960, he has focused on the amalgam of art and popular music, which is reflected mainly in the wide-ranging circles of his songs, on the poetry of contemporary distinguished Greek poets. The rest of his stylistically rich work includes operas, ballet, stage music, works for voices and organ ensemble, orchestral, choral and chamber works.

Politically active from a young age, he identified himself through the struggles for freedom and democracy, forming the personality of a socially active creator with a strong awareness of his social mission.

In 1996 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Department of Music Studies of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Earlier, for the 150th anniversary of the founding of the University of Athens, he had composed Symphony no. 4, “Symphony of the Choral Odes”, for soprano, alto, narrator, cello, male choir and instrumental ensemble (1986-7), on ancient drama excerpts. The “Archive of Hellenic Music” of the Department of Music Studies includes most of his works, aiming at research, analysis, study and performance.