Editorial: A free human being

He was the composer of the music for Nobel Prize-winning poet Odysseas Elytis’ “Axion Esti”, but he was also the symbol of the resistance against Greece’s 1967-1974 military dictatorship.

There are times when whatever one might say would appear commonplace.

One wishes only to remain silent, to remember, to lower one’s head and close one’s eyes, and to listen to a song.

Mikis Theodorakis cannot fit into a mould, nor can one separate his music from his political struggles.

“I always lived with two sounds – the one political and the other musical,” he told the New York Times in 1970.

He was the composer of the music for Nobel Prize-winning poet Odysseas Elytis’ “Axion Esti”, but he was also the symbol of the resistance against Greece’s 1967-1974 military dictatorship.

He made the Greek syrtaki dance, from his score for the film Zorba the Greek known all over the world and struggled for his ideas from whatever position he deemed most suitable each time.

He was at once a cosmopolitan and a patriot. He was a “Pan-Hellene” as Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou described him. A universal Greek. He was the last of the greats, a towering div.

The Greek people are deeply mourning his death – as are politicians from the entire political spectrum, intellectuals, authors, and artists, who are saying that they are in awe of this unique, irreplaceable personality.

They retain the memory of a very tall man who when he extended his arms to direct musicians seemed to be embracing the entire people, young and old, right-wingers and left-wingers, the strong and the weak, yet especially the oppressed.

“I am neither a communist, nor a Social Democrat, nor anything else,” Mikis once stated. “I am a free human being.”

That is how we mourn him today, and that is how we shall remember him.

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