Greek legendary composer and political activist Mikis Theodorakis, who was instrumental in raising worldwide awareness of Greece's plight during the 1967-74 military dictatorship, has died at the age of 96.
He was born in Chios on July 29, 1925, and studied music in Athens before moving to Paris.
He has composed a wide body of work, ranging from stirring anthems based on major Greek poetic works that remain leftist protest songs for years to symphonies and film scores.
He is best known for composing the syrtaki from the film Zorba the Greek (1964) and for his songs being performed by major artists including The Beatles, Shirley Bassey, and Edith Piaf. He wrote scores for films such as Z (1969), which was awarded a BAFTA Award for original music, Phaedra
Theodorakis also wrote the "Mauthausen Trilogy" - otherwise known as "The Ballad of Mauthausen" and the "Mauthausen Cantata" - a collection of four arias with lyrics based on poems written by Greek poet Iakovos Kambanellis, a Mauthaus
Theodorakis had been a Communist Party of Greece member since 1981 and an MP from 1981 to 1990. However, in 1989 he ran as an independent candidate for the New Democracy party on the right and was named a minister in 1990 under Constantine Mitsotakis (father of the current Greek prime minister), only to resign in March 1992.
Visibly distraught, his daughter, Margarita Theodoraki, said on Thursday his health had deteriorated repidly in recent days. “He was a very good man, a great man. Keep loving him,” she told journalists waiting outside the composer’s home.
The Ministry of Culture announced on Thursday that all events sponsored by the ministry have been postponed as a result of Theodorakis' death, which has been declared a three-day national mourning.