Musical folk hero: Mikis Theodorakis at 95

His powerful musical and political voice has cut through Greece's chequered history of war, dictatorship and austerity. Even at the age of 95, Mikis Theodorakis is still having his say.


Many associate the name Mikis Theodorakis with the music from the triple Oscar-winning cult film Zorba the Greek, which made him a global star in the mid-1960s. The accompanying dance, the Sirtaki, is regarded by many non-Greeks as the epitome of Greek folk dance, though the step sequence was invented especially for the film.


The soundtrack to the cult film "Zorba the Greek" starring Anthony Quinn, and the Sirtaki dance that accompanied it, made Mikis Theodorakis world-famous. A concert was held in 1995 in Munich to celebrate the master composer's 70th birthday, and he was overjoyed to see Anthony Quinn turn up to congratulate him. The actor and long-time friend naturally performed the Sirtaki that night.

But Theodorakis has composed much more than traditional music, penning over 1000 songs, many based on the works of Greek poets, which have long become part of the folk heritage of his homeland.

He has also composed numerous symphonies and operas, as well as chamber, ballet and film music.