Historic recordings from the underground and exile. Composed by Mikis Theodorakis (1925-). Recording mediums. CD. Duration 75' 1''. MDS (Music Distribution Services) #INT 33782. Published by MDS (Music Distribution Services) (M7.INT-33782).
Item Number: M7.INT-33782
The Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis is one of the few living artists who represent a large section of the twentieth century. He is also one of the most contradictory personalities alive today. Resistance runs through his entire life. First resistance against Italian oppression, then against fascism in his own country, then resistance against an increasingly rigid communism, as he grew older it was the resistance of a conservative against pseudo-progressive globalization, and finally a permanent resistance against his own image. But precisely by constantly shrugging himself off, he has become truly himself and never became a pale shadow of his own past. Once he would have been called a troublemaker; if he were twenty again today he would be classified as a punk or anarchist. For all the political awareness in his art Theodorakis has preserved his delicate sense of poetry and imagination. 'I have always pushed my limits, but at the same time I was always conscious of them. I composed knowing that the limits of human existence can only be overcome through imagination, inspiration, and intuition. And I acted on that. Art is the only thing so far that has conquered death. All those who tried to achieve immortality through violence, power, or money have failed. Immortality has no temporal dimension. It is a sign of quality, a strong feeling. Only art can communicate emotion of being immortal for three seconds.Mikis Theodorakis has written a large number of musical works of varied form and size during his long life. His compositions range from small songs in the style of folksongs, in which the voice is accompanied only by bouzouki or guitar, to large-scale symphonies, operas, cantatas, masses, and oratories, like his unparalleled Canto General on texts by Pablo Neruda. Surely his most famous work is his often-copied music for the classic film Alexis Sorbas, which starred Anthony Quinn. It is important to note that this soundtrack appeared in 1964, and thus that Theodorakis was already a world star three years before he was imprisoned by the Greek military junta in August 1967. Theodorakis's protest songs, written from the late sixties to mid-seventies, met with great international interest because there was a parallel movement of the protest song worldwide, led by figures like Bob Dylan, Viktor Jara, and Pete Seeger, singing for the ears and hearts of a rebellious young audience. Several of his songs were smuggled out of the country, at great personal risk, and became popular in interpretations by Melina Mercouri and Maria Farantouri. He recorded them under the most primitive conditions. For example, his percussion instrument was just a table struck by a ruler. Resistance is not a summary of the resistances in the life of Mikis Theodorakis but three cycles of songs he wrote during the Greek dictatorship from 1967 to 1974, underground, on the run, in prison, under house arrest, banished, and in exile. His songs have lost nothing of their urgency precisely because they are so movingly simple. Some sound like invocations, others like calls to struggle, still others like declarations of love. It isn't necessary to understand the words to comprehend that Theodorakis draws on a deep well of everyday and deeply human observations and experiences when he creates. The texts are by the great Greek writers and poets whom Theodorakis met in the resistance; but without exception he made their words into a language that was of a piece with his own body.When we hear these simple songs, it is difficult to reconcile them with the artist who set the texts of the church father Johannes Damaskinos in a large-scale requiem. As Theodorakis sees himself, however, this contradiction is simply logical. For him music is a metaphor for life, whatever the political circumstances may be. 'For me, the quintessence of the gift of life lies in the harmonic laws that penetrate and determine us. Harmony is the only thing that makes it possible to live together. Before there was harmony, perhaps, chaos reigned. When the galaxies formed from the primal matter, the first harmonic laws came into effect. This runs through the solar system. A ballet that moves with the precision of a hundredth of a second. This idea can drive someone crazy. It is terrifying to think that the individual obeys the same harmonic laws as the galaxies. Human society too needs an equilibrium. All emotions have to be brought into balance. I believe that 999 of a 1000 people want this harmony. Hence we have one in a thousand or in ten thousand, whom we might call the extraterrestrials. They are the leaders. The saviors. The saints. The supermen. And they are our enemies. They destroy this harmony within society. They use politics and parties to achieve this. I know these types, and I attack them. Sometimes they wear black and call themselves fascists. Sometimes they wear red and say they are communists. Or they wear green and call themselves social democrats. I am not interested in the colors. Perhaps I was red once. Right now the enemy is black. But when the red ones became dangerous, I would have been betraying myself if I had remained loyal to them, because they had become our enemies. The central concern of my activity as a composer has always been setting poetry.'Resistance is a retrospective, and given how melancholic many of the songs on this album sound, this retrospective may have been difficult for Theodorakis himself as well. But even when he sighs, his sighs contain the hope of a twenty-year-old volcano. 'Humanity has taken a few steps forward during the past 150 years, with revolutions and two world wars. At present we find ourselves in a regressive phase again. That is dangerous, and we have to resist it. We need new theories, new analyses. I do not see them, however. Nowhere. Marx, Engels, and Luxemburg are no longer in keeping with our times, but there are no new ones. The world has fallen into a routine; humanity has accepted its fate.' Theodorakis has been and continues to be a resister. Unruly. A wild one!