While most will remember Mikis Theodorakis as the composer of Zorba the Greek sound track his true contribution to his beloved Grece and the world was to act as the guardian of what Aristotle defined as the “ Golden Mean” . To the father of philosophy, the world and human beings could only achieve happiness in so far as the kept a strict balance between vice and virtue. Or as he clearly stated it “ Virtue is the golden mean between two vices, the one of excess and the other of deficiency”.
Indeed , Theodorakis’ life was a balancing act between extremes. As a musician he was trained in the strictest classical concept of music by Olivier Messiaen. Yet he brought together classical composition and popular rhythms that are part of Greece’s folklore and where only present in family gatherings or ill-reputed dancing floors of the underworld. This music has a key instrument the bouzouki, an instrument that looks like a long-necked lute and produces that distinct sound of Greek music which reminds us of the crystal waves of the Aegean Sea. His quest for the Golden Mean was a fundamental part of his musical development. He quickly identified a deep divide in music. There was no interaction between classical , popular, and folk music. . To his mind this weakened musical development and he threw himself to the task of bringing them together. The Zorba soundtrack was turned into a ballet and three operas were composed to pay tribute to Verdi, Bellini, and Rossini. In the end both classical and popular music grew stronger and fuller of life and of joy-de-vivre. His music creations spilled over concert halls to roam through the streets, the radio and the morning whistles of workers and peasants.
In politics ha was a militant of the Communist Party who did not follow its lead when the interests of freedom were compromised by the communist strategy. He thus broke away on many occasions. When the USSR thought appeasement with Hitler was possible; when Czechoslovakia was occupied by Soviet troops and when the communist Party of Greece supported anarchism at the dawn of this century. On those occasions he departed from the communist dogma , played in favor of freedom, and rescinded his party affiliation. His support for the police during the 2008-2009 riots was attacked with fury by the left. Upon return of democracy, he supported a conservative government to lead the transition. He explained his position by publicly indicating to his fellow citizens that it was either Karamanlis or the tanks. The same reasoning led him to join the conservative government of Konstantinos Mitsotakis in the ninety nineties when Greek political integrity was showing fractures.
He leaves this world at a time when we seem to be ruled by people who enjoy and profit from the extremes. Where the notions of balance and equilibrium are deemed to be signs of weakness and where education has ceased to exist suffocated by information that seldom is produced with care and lack of bias. A pity to lose Theodorakis.
“The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author”.