ATHENS (Reuters) – Thousands of Greeks bid farewell on Wednesday to Mikis Theodorakis, a world-renowned activist and musician whose work brought Greek culture to global audiences in the late 20th century.
Theodorakis, whose musical score for the 1964 film “Zorba the Greek” helped give millions a carefree image of Greece abroad, died on September 2 at the age of 96.
For the Greeks, he embodied the history of a nation through class struggles and resistance for half a century.
A farewell ceremony on Wednesday drew officials and ordinary Greeks, who gathered in a light autumnal drizzle outside a central Athens cathedral.
“He will always be with us, rooted in our collective memory,” Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said during a eulogy at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, where Theodorakis had been lying since Monday for members of the public to give him a final look. tribute.
His compositions ranged from the soundtrack to ‘Zorba’, featuring Anthony Quinn as a lovable thug dancing barefoot on a Cretan beach, to the punchy intensity of ‘Romiosini’ (Greekism), a series of songs stirrings of identity and resistance.
Much of his music was adapted from the songs of Greek poets, bringing national prose to the mainstream. His tunes grew in popularity, becoming anthems of the political left.
He was born Michalis Theodorakis on the island of Chios on July 29, 1925. Theodorakis wrote more than 200 popular songs, 10 symphonies, two oratorios, three ballets, a popular opera and the Olympic anthem, performed for the first time at the Games from Barcelona in 1992.
Theodorakis was imprisoned twice. Accused of guerrilla sympathies in the war between right-wing royalists and left-wing popular forces after World War II, he was arrested in July 1947. He was released in August 1949.
Under the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974, he was again imprisoned and tortured. He was released under international pressure in 1970.
“With his songs, he made people cry and fight for a better life,” said Ilias Koutsogiannis, who attended Wednesday’s ceremony.
The funeral and burial are due to take place on Thursday on the island of Crete.
(Reporting by Vassilis Triantafyllou; additional reporting by Lefteris Papadimas, editing by William Maclean)
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