Mikis Theodorakis was born on the Greek island Chios on 29 July 1925. Still being a child he became acquainted with Greek folk music and after hearing Ludwig von Beethoven's Ninth Symphony he decided to become a composer himself. He received a musical formation both in his own country and at the Conservatory in Paris, where he studied under Olivier Messiaen. His gift for music was immediately recognised and he was commissioned with film scores and ballet music. In 1959 his ballet Antigone was performed at Covent Garden in London. The death of a young striker and the poems about the incident he set to music, urged him to return to his homeland. Political incidents have never let him indifferent.
The German occupation of Greece, the Greek civil wars and the never-ending tensions between Turkey and Greece in the Cyprus dispute have marked Mikis Theodorakis deeply. He has always tried to reconcile, but has also taken stands as a result of which he ended in prison more than once and was even tortured. When the Colonels took power in 1967, he was first interned in his homeland and in 1970, under the pressure of an international solidarity movement, released and sent to exile in Paris.
He reached fame with his scores for Michael Cacoyannis' Zorba the Greek
(1964) and Costa-Gavras' Z
(1969). He also wrote the music for The Trojan Women
, The Day the Fish Came Out
and Iphegenia in Aulis
, three films made by Cacoyannis. Also with Costa-Gavras he hit it off immediately, and the score for Z
was followed by music for Etat de Siège
. Among his sixty music scores should not be forgotten that for Sidney Lumet's Serpico
In the sixties and in the eighties Mikis Theodorakis was a Member of Parliament and a minister. He was even solicited to become Greek president, but he declined that offer because of his age. Although some of his political statements were controversial, he has got several peace prizes.
At the seventh edition of the World Soundtrack Awards the Flemish Radio orchestra conducted by Dirk Brossé will not only perform music of Mikis Theodorakis, but also of the Canadian composer Mychael Danna (Little Miss Sunshine
, Monsoon Wedding
, Ice Storm
), of Harry Gregson-Williams (Man of Fire
, Chronicles of Narnia
), of Evanthia Reboutsika (My Father & My Son
), World Soundtrack Discovery 2006 and of Belgian jazz musician Jef Neve (Dagen Zonder Lief
7th edition of the World Soundtrack Awards, at Music Centre De Bijloke Ghent at 8 p.m. on Saturday 20 October. Tickets €42/€32 via TeleTicketService (www.teleticketservice.be - 070 345 345)