Mikis Theodorakis was born in the Greek island of Chios, in 1925. The exact same year that the other great composer of Greece was born in Xanthi, Manos Hatzidakis. He fought during the 2nd World War, and he was captured at the city of Tripoli. He was tortured, but when he was set free, he joined the partisan army of Greece named EAM, which means National Liberating Movement. He took part in the civil war in Greece which occurred during 1945-1949, always with the left parties of Greece. He was exiled for the first time in the island of Ikaria in 1947, he was transferred to the island of Makronisos in 1948.
He marries Myrto Altinoglou, five years later in 1953, and one year later he moved in Paris in order to continue his studies in music. He composed continuously during the following years using some of the most wonderful poems in order to express the people of Greece. After Lamprakis, a Parliamentary representative was murdered, Theodorakis becomes himself a member of the Parliament and the number one enemy of the Right parties of Greece.
The great composer doesn’t not stop expressing his need and hope for democracy even when military dictator Georgios Papadopoulos takes power in Greece in 1967. Some months later the military dictatorship decides that he is not ‘welcome’ in his own country, he is exiled for one more time. Great personalities express their support to this great composer, like Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Miller etc.
He became internationally famous when he composed the music for the film Zorba the Greek (1964), directed by Michael Cacoyannis and starring Anthony Quinn. But he was becoming very popular even before that film, when he was composing music for the Jules Dassinfilm Phaedra (1962) starring Melina Mercouri, Anthony Perkins, Raf Vallone, and Kakogiannis’ Electra (1962) starring Irene Papas, Aleka Katselli. He even composed music for such acclaimed films like Z (1969) by Costa-Gavras starring Yves Montand and Papas, and Serpico (1973) by Sidney Lumet starring Al Pacino. He came back in 1974, but he stayed only for 6 years. Theodorakis was dissatisfied and went back in Paris and finished his third big work, Canto General, which together with the music from the film Zorba the Greek (1964) and “Axion Esti”, a piece of work based on the poems of the Nobel winner poet Odysseas Elitis.
During the 80s he became for one more time member of the Parliament and issue of controversy in the beginning of the 90s, when he collaborated with the right party’s prime minister Konstantin Mitsotakis. In 1992 he composed the Canto Olympico for the Olympic Games of Barcelona.
His opera Ilektra gained very good reviews, in Luxemburg, the Capital City Of Europe in 1995. He composed also another opera of Lysistrati for the Olympic Games of Athens in 2004. Although, he created controversies with his actions during the last decades, 1980-1990, Mikis Theodorakis is one of the greatest composers of Greece and he created the modern music of Greece together with Manos Hadjidakis.