September 2, 2021
The Central Committee of the KKE released the following statement, bidding farewell to composer Mikis Theodorakis:
It is with deep sorrow and a rousing ovation that we bid farewell to Mikis Theodorakis; a fighter–creator, a leader and pioneer of a new, militant art in music.
Impulsive, inspired and having a burning ambition to contribute to the people, Theodorakis managed to include the whole epic of the popular struggle of the 20th century in our country in his majestic work. After all, he was part of this epic.
At the age of 17, he joined EAM and shortly afterwards the KKE, taking part in the National Resistance. In December of 1944, he fought in the Battle of Athens, which resulted in a bloodbath. After the defeat of the Democratic Army of Greece, he and his comrades faced severe persecution by the bourgeois state. He was exiled to Ikaria and Makronisos, where he was brutally tortured. In the years that followed, he fought through EDA and the Lambrakis Democratic Youth for cultural rebirth, while he paid his illegal activity against the colonels’ military dictatorship in 1967 with further difficulties, imprisonments, and exile.
The concerts he held abroad until the fall of the dictatorship and then all over Greece were spectacular. In 1978 he was the KKE candidate for mayor in Athens, while in 1981 and 1985 he was elected MP of the Party. “I lived my greatest and most beautiful years in the ranks of the KKE”, he had stated at the event organized by the Party in honour of the 90 years of his artistic and social contribution.
Indeed, Theodorakis never forgot the ideals of freedom and social justice, which remained unfulfilled. His work is a constant confrontation with injustice and defeatism, a clarion call for fight, for new struggles, for resistance, for uplift and hope. “Romiosini” is his response to the bitterness and frustration of a people whose dreams have not yet been fulfilled.
This determination to live and struggle is neither shallow nor always easy. Sometimes it emerges through torturous reflection. Undoubtedly, Mikis knew how to speak out against any kind of injustice, just like he knew how to assert the belief that love, happiness, peace, and freedom are tangible. Regardless how vigorously he waved the “double-edged sword”, the “shining sword” of his music, he knew how to soften his song, touching with tender sensitivity all things good and beautiful in life and the world.
Mikis’ music is endowed with all those materials that make up great art, the art that captures the pulse of its time and intuits the forthcoming events. The feeling, the spirit, the memory, and the experience of the struggling people are the source of his inspiration. “Whatever we made, we took it from the people and we return it to the people”, he used to say, and this was not false modesty. Theodorakis was deeply aware that the era in which he lived played an important role for his personal artistic achievement. He was fully aware that the actions of the people were reflected in the special way and the dynamism of his art, and that and his own participation in the popular struggle, although to some extent distracting him from creating, was its oxygen. “The artist who lives and creates within the struggle, secures a special place for his work,” he said. His work is a shining example of the fact that great art is always political, whether its creator seeks it or not.
Theodorakis trusted in the people. He believed that the people have the power to conquer the loftiest and most beautiful things humankind can create in history. That is why, with enormous devotion, he created an art that elevates the people. Mikis not only exquisitely composed music for poems without betraying poetry, he recreated it and delivered it in a form that directly pierced people’s heart. “He brought poetry to the people’s table, next to their glass and bread”, as Ritsos wrote about him. It is not only the unrepeatable discourse of his music with the poetry of Ritsos in “Epitaph”, which through the astonishing interpretations of Bithikotsis and Chiotis became a timeless popular mourning and hymn to death that fertilizes the future. Theodorakis succeeded in speaking with the finest poetry in the people’s soul, even through demanding and unusual to the people’s ear musical forms, such as those in “Axion Esti” by Elytis, in “Epiphania–Averoff” by Seferis, in the “Pnevmatiko Emvatirio” of Angelos Sikelianos, etc.
His prolific work includes almost all kinds of music: the melodic modes of folk songs, the ancient tragedy, the Byzantine music scales, the classical song, the symphonic music, the oratorios. Being versatile, multi-talented, and an intellectual, he also had a rich literary work. In the case of Mikis Theodorakis, the artistic genius met with a restless, alert, and creative personality that always felt the need to overcome himself. His music went beyond the borders of the country, as its language has the universality of the joint sufferings, the hopes, and the visions shared by all the peoples, all the humble people of the earth. The award of the Lenin Prize for Peace crowned his artistic and social contribution. In the future, it is with his own music that the peoples of Greece, of Turkey, of Cyprus, of the Balkans, of the Middle East, and of all over the world will sing together the song of peace.
Mikis liked to take long walks, to breathe “in the big streets, under the posters”. And there his music will continue to be heard, to inspire, to motivate, to educate. We will continue to walk listening to Mikis’ music until “the bells of social liberation toll”. But even when “the war is over” we will not forget him … He will be present even when “dreams blush”.
Mikis’ memory will live on in us forever!
The KKE extends its heartfelt condolences to his family and wishes them strength.
The Central Committee of the KKE
In 1993 Mikis Theodorakis set to music Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda’s great work Canto General, an epic poem in which Neruda depicts Latin American history as as a continuous struggle against oppression. Below is a link to a performance of the Theodorakis oratorio in Chile in 1993 after the end of the Pinochet fascist dictatorship.