Mikis Theodorakis – musician and antifascist died at the age of 96 years

2. September 2021

One year ago, the FIR congratulated the legendary Greek composer and anti-fascist Mikis Theodorakis with a „newsletter“ on his 95th birthday. Today we have to announce with regret that he has passed away.

We remember his fantastic musical contributions, his diverse compositions, his folk songs as well as the great setting of the „Canto General“ based on verses by Pablo Neruda.

At the same time, we remember him as an anti-fascist fighter, who fought against the German occupation of Greece in the ranks of the Greek People’s Liberation Army ELAS as a teenager. At the age of 18, he was imprisoned and tortured for the first time. As a communist fighter, Theodorakis was arrested again in July 1947 during the civil war and deported several times, in December 1948 to the camp island of Makronisos. After his release, he went to Paris, where he studied music. As early as 1957, he received his first awards for his compositions. In 1960, he returned to Athens, where he worked as a composer and politician, including as founder of the Lambrakis Youth. In 1964, with the singer Maria Farantouri, he published the Mauthausen Song Cycle, a tribute to the former concentration camp inmates. With the coup d’état of the fascist Obrist’s in 1967, Theodorakis had to go underground again. The Obrist’s banned his music, even singing and listening to his songs were punishable by imprisonment. He was arrested, tortured and – despite serious illness – deported to the Oropos concentration camp. Only an international solidarity movement succeeded in his release in 1970. Theodorakis went into exile again to France. Internationally, he became a symbol of unbroken resistance to the Greek dictatorship.

In 1972, he met Pablo Neruda and Salvador Allende. Theodorakis‘ setting of the „Canto General“ became an anthem of the Chilean resistance after the coup against Allende in September 1973.

As a leftist without party, he was elected to the Greek parliament several times after the end of the Obrist rule, and in 1990, was even appointed as a minister without portfolio. Even in his old age, Theodorakis spoke out clearly on current issues, especially against the falsification of history and against the neo-fascist „Golden Dawn“.

Mikis Theodorakis remains unforgotten as a musician and anti-fascist in the FIR and its member associations.