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Greece Mourns at Funeral of Great Composer and Patriot Mikis Theodorakis

Mikis Theodorakis burial
Thousands of mourners lined the streets of Chania to pay last respects to Mikis Theodorakis. Credit: AMNA

Late composer Mikis Theodorakis, whose music came to define Greece and the Greek identity in the eyes of the world, was buried at the village of Galata in Crete on Thursday.

Theodorakis’ father and brother are also buried there.

Earlier, thousands of mourners filled the streets of the city of Chania, as the coffin containing the remains of Theodorakis, passed through for the funeral service at the Cathedral of the Presentation of the Virgin.

His remains arrived on the island of Crete early on Thursday morning. Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis traveled to Chania on Thursday to attend the funeral.

Mikis Theodorakis “will always be here”

All ages and all generations today bid farewell “to the Greek and global, patriot and international Mikis Theodorakis,” said President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Wednesday during a ceremony held at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral.

Saying goodbye on behalf of all Greeks, she noted that Theodorakis “will always be here, a flower that has sprouted in our mature memory” and that his “cultural and social intervention changed Greece and each one of us in a way that was more indirect but far deeper than we can understand today.”

Sakellaropoulou spoke of an exuberant, indomitable fighter who broke through the constraints of Greek defeatism and isolationism, joining the national with the universal to show a path toward forging the modern Greek identity.

“He gave us the priceless thread of his music to unravel and reach the clearing of democracy, turning his call into action and state, answering to our history,” Sakellaropoulou added.

The president spoke of the way his music had brought together Greece’s folk traditions, byzantine heritage, popular songs and modern innovations while noting that he had been a symbol of a responsible personal stance to the harsh demands of history, and a model of courage in expressing his beliefs, defying persecution, arrest, exile and disappointment.

“Mikis Theodorakis was present at every turn of our national adventure, always metabolizing each historic moment through the traits of his special, strong personality, leaving an indelible stamp on Greek life,” she said.

Works encapsulated world of Greek music

Mikis Theodorakis, the greatest Greek composer in history, whose music has touched generations, died last Thursday at age 96 at his home in Athens.

The composer penned what is probably the best-known piece of Greek music, the film score to “Zorba the Greek,” an instrumental which is still played and danced to around the world to this day.

Theodorakis produced a staggering number of musical works, encompassing both symphonic music and most predominantly Greek folk music, from which he drew most of his inspiration, making it famous the world over.

His ability to compose music which conveyed emotion and struggle is perhaps best displayed in his composition “The Ballad of Mauthausen.” This music has been described as one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written about the Holocaust.

The legacy which the incomparable Theodorakis leaves behind is not only that of the greatest Greek composer of all time, but also that of a visionary humanitarian. Starting out as a socialist, in his later years he tried to unite all the Greek people, regardless of their political affiliation.

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