Mikis Theodorakis 1995 Recipient
Mikis Theodorakis, Cretan by descent, was born in Chios on 29 July, 1925.
Theodorakis spent his childhood years in different provincial towns of Greece, including Lesvos, Cephallonia, Pyrgos, and Patras. He took his first music lessons in Patras and then in Tripoli, where he created a chorus, and gives his first concert -- a presentation of his composition, Kassiane. In Tripoli, Theodorakis also joined in the resistance against the German occupation.
In 1942, he escaped to Athens. And in 1943, he began study at the Athens Conservatory, in the class of Philoktitis Economidis. He completed his studies at the Conservatory in 1950 with a degree in harmony, counterpoint, and fugue.
From 1950 to 1954, he composed music for radio and television. In 1954, he left Athens for Paris on
Scholarship. He matriculated at the Conservatoire, where he studied music analysis with Professor Olivier Messiaen and orchestra direction with Professor Eugene Bigot.
For Theodorakis, the years 1954-1960 were a period of intense artistic creation in Europe. He composed music for the film Covent Garden, for the Stuttgard Ballet, and the Ballet Company of Ludmila Tcherina. In 1957, Sostakovich awarded him First Prize of the Moscow Music Festival.
His main compositions dating prior to 1960 are: Trio, Margarita (oratorio), Sexteto, To Panegyri tes Ase-Gonias (The Festivities of Asi-Gonia) (symphonic), Prote Symphonia (First Symphony), Ellenike Apokria (Greek Carnival), Kyklos (Cycle) (voice and piano), Sonatina for Piano, Suite No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 (for orchestra), Sonatina No. 1, and Sonatina 2 for violin and piano, Antigone (ballet), Eros and Thanatos (for voice and strings), Oi Erastes tou Terouel (The Lovers of Teruel) (ballet), Oidipous Tyrannos (Oedipus Tyrant) (for strings), and Piano Concerto.
In 1960, the composer began to make frequent visits to Greece, where he recorded his first cycle of songs, The Epitaphios of Yiannis Ritsos. Two years later, in 1962, he returned permanently to Greece and forms the Mikre Orchestra Athinon (Small Orchestra of Athens) and the Mousikos Organismos Peiraia (Music Organization of Peraius). He gave many concerts, and in 1963, he founded the Democratic Youth of Lambrakis and was elected its President. The next year, 1964, Theodorakis was elected to Parliament.
His main works during this period were:
Cycle of Songs: Archipelago, Politeia, Epiphaneia
Music for Theater: Enas Omeros, To tragoudi tou
Nekrou Adelphou, Omorphi Poli,
Geitonia ton Aggelon.
Music for Film: Zorbas directed by M. Cacoyiannis.
Oratoria: Axion Esti by Odysseas Elytis
When the Dictatorship gained power in 1967, Mikis Theodorakis went underground. He collaborated with others to form the Patriotic Front; he was arrested, jailed, and later forcefully displaced within Greece. He was finally allowed to leave for Paris after much pressure from people living abroad.
By the time of his departure to France, Theodorakis had composed several works, including:
Cycles of Songs: O Elios kai o Chronos, Ta Laika, Oi Deka Arkadies, Ta Tragoudia tou Agona, Ta Tragoudia tou Andrea, Nychta Thanatou.
Oratoria: Epiphaneia Averof, Katastase Poliorkias, Pneumatiko Emvaterio, Raven.
During his time abroad, he struggled for the fall of the dictatorship and the unification of the resistance forces in Greece. He gave countless concerts throughout the world that were dedicated to the restoration of democracy in Greece.
The most important works of this period were 18 Lianotragouda tes Pikres Patridas and Ballantes, as well as the oratorio of Pablo Neruda's Canto General.
Theodorakis returned to Greece following the fall of the dictatorship in 1974 and continued to compose and tour in Greece and throughout the world. He also continued to be politically involved. He served as a parliamentary deputy from 1981 to 1986 and was again elected to parliament in 1989.
His main compositions during this period were:
Cycles of Songs: Ta Lyrika, Hairetismoi, Dionyssos, Phaidra, E Veatrike sten Odo Meden, Mia Thalassa
Gemate Mousike, Os Archaios Anemos.
Music for Theater: Oresteia (Aamemnon, Choeforoi, Eumenides) and Antigone.
Music for Film: Iphigeneia directed by M. Cacoyiannis.
Oratoria: Theia Litourgia (Missa Greca), Litourgia 2 (for the children that die in war), Requiem.
Symphonies: Deutere Symphonia, Trite Symphonia, Tetarte Symphonia, Evdome Symphonia, Kata Saddoukaion, Canto Olympico (written for the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona in 1992).
Music for Ballet: Zorbas
Operas: Kostas Karyotakes and Medea.