ATHENS – Renowned internationally for his scores for the films Zorba the Greek and the US-made Serpico, composer Mikis Theodorakis, a leftist jailed during the junta for his beliefs but who has turned on the Radical Left SYRIZA, underwent surgery for a pacemaker.
A hospital statement said Theodorakis, who is 94, had the operation March 8 and was recuperating in his room. The hospital wasn’t identified.
Theodorakis won international acclaim and inspired millions at home with his prolific work and political defiance during Greece’s 1967-74 military dictatorship for which he imprisoned by the Colonels before international pressure led to the government agreeing to let him go into exile in Paris, where he continued to speak out.
Despite his frail health in recent years, he has continued to engage in public affairs, and in January addressed an Athens rally against Greece’s agreement to normalize relations with neighboring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), now called North Macedonia, keeping the name of an ancient Greek province.
Theodorakis’ work ranges from rousing songs based on major Greek poetic works, many of which remain left-wing anthems for decades, to symphonies and film scores and his Zorba has come a flash mob favorite on You Tube with impromptu groups around the world taking to the streets of various cities to dance the syrtaki.
He had been been hospitalized since February 26, “after difficulty breathing and heart palpitations, in a history of recurrent atrial fibrillation. He is being administered medication through IV and continues to be hospitalized,” the hospital said at the time.
In August, 2018, he suffered a major heart attack and was rushed to a hospital after feeling intense chest pain and suffering from heart irregularity.
In a wheelchair, Theodorakis took the stage in Syntagma Square on Feb. 4 where a rally of at least 100,000 people took to the streets to denounce the Macedonia name giveaway by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who had once courted Theodorakis before the composer broke with him when the Premier surrendered to international creditors and broke his word to reverse harsh austerity measures.
“Using the name Macedonia as a vehicle and twisting historical events to a ridiculous extent, they actually seek to expand their borders at the expense of ours,” Theodorakis said.
Government Spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos accused Theodorakis of “shifting to bigoted and politically extreme positions,” and not supporting the shift of Tsipras and SYRIZA to accepting more austerity.
When Tsipras went to Cuba to speak at the funeral of one of his other heroes, Fidel Castro, the irony was too much for Theodorakis, who said:
“Comrade Alexis, I have to hand it to you, you are crafty; the craftiest bloke in Greece since 450 BC until today; because you do as you please without considering anyone. You use your personal (corporate) jet, fill it with friends and head off for Cuba, leaving the bill, 300,000 USD, left to be paid by the suckers, who get paid 300 euros a month, at best,” said Theodorakis in a stinging series of insults.
“You speak from the Plaza de la Revolucion, where Fidel spoke as a genuine and tough revolutionary … you act the part of revolutionary and when you return (to Greece), you again become what you were, a child that runs the errands of Merkel, Obama and Juncker, the ones who you pilloried in Havana,” said Theodorakis in a posting on his website, the Greek business newspaper Naftemporiki reported.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)