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China, Russia, France, Israel Pay Tribute to Mikis Theodorakis Work, Life

A giant in the fields of music and human rights, the late Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, who died at 96 after a legacy of genius and decency, was honored with accolades coming in, including from China, Russia, France and Israel.

France was Mikis Theodorakis’ second home since the 1950's and where he lived in exile from the military dictatorship that ruled from 1967-74, released after being tortured and jailed, the Colonels giving in to international pressure.

The French Institute in Greece website posted a photograph of Theodorakis after he was appointed Commander of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest French order of merit, said Kathimerini in a roundup of the tributes.

At the conferring in the French Embassy in 2007, Theodorakis noted that his most popular songs were written in Paris, where both his children were born, the insitute said.

He also recalled his friendship with French statesman François Mitterrand, the late French President.

“Freedom, music and politics: for Mikis Theodorakis these three words were inextricably linked with Paris and France. Mikis Theodorakis is immortal,” the institute added.

A veteran of leftist and Communist causes, he was especially loved in Russia too, where his death was called an irreplaceable loss not only for Greece but the world, Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.

Mentioning that Theodorakis had been decorated with several Russian and Soviet medals of distinction, she noted that his music became “a symbol of Greece for Russian citizens and for peoples across our country,” the paper said.

Zakharova described the Greek composer as a “familiar person,” as “I think I grew up with his music, and I learned about his name.”

She noted that in public schools such as hers when young, that Theodorakis' works were taught in music class and his biography was also studied. She also quoted him during her press briefing as saying that he felt very close to Russia, in admiration and gratitude for its sacrifices to save the world from Nazism.

The Russian Orthodox Church sent its condolences to Theodorakis’ family. “His achievements in the art of music were repeatedly honored with international and national awards, including the highest distinction of the Russian Federation, the Order of Apostle St. Andrew the First-Called, said Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, president of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.

With his political beliefs, he was also a favorite in China and the Chinese Embassy to Greece tweeted that, “His work and ideas had a global impact and he was known and loved in China, while he was always in favor of strengthening bilateral relations. May his memory live forever.”

The Embassy of Israel joined with the honors too, remembering one of his greatest works, about the Holocaust in WWII, the Mathausen Trilogy, also known as the Ballad of Mathausen, a cycle of four arias with lyrics based on poems written by Greek poet Iakovos Kambanellis, a Mauthausen concentration camp survivor, the music written by Theodorakis.

It has been described as the "most beautiful musical work ever written about the Holocaust" and as "an exquisite, haunting and passionate melody that moves Kambanellis' affecting words to an even higher level".

“His work, mirror to his soul and Greek history, echoes in Israeli music and life. The ‘Ballad of Mauthausen,’ an important and beautiful musical piece on the Holocaust, speaks for the many, whose voice was lost forever,” the embassy said.

“Despite some differences and arguments, we remember him and cherish his contribution to the world of music and humanity which will continue to live on,” it added.


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