ATHENS – Legendary Greek music composer Manos Hadjidakis would have been 95 years old on October 23 this year. Born in Xanthi in 1925, Hadjidakis began his music education at 14, learning the piano, violin, and accordion.
From 1940-43, Hadjidakis studied advanced music theory with Menelaos Pallandios, and traveled in the same circles as numerous musicians, writers, and intellectuals in Athens.
Part of the Greek Resistance during WWII, Hadjidakis met Mikis Theodorakis, and a strong friendship soon blossomed.
His storied career began with writing the tune for the song “Paper Moon – Hartino to Feggaraki” featured in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, not to be confused with “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” an American standard sang by many, including Vivien Leigh as Blanche Du Bois in the film version of Streetcar.
But he is best known for the song “Never on Sunday” made famous in the eponymous 1960 film starring Melina Mercouri, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Original song.
He wrote and contributed to countless other films, including “300 Spartans,” “Topkapi,” and “America America,” and he wrote the music for “All Alone Am I” (Arthur Altman wrote the lyrics), recorded by Brenda Lee.
On June 15, 1994, the iconic composer died in Athens at age 68.