Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis passed away on Thursday at the age of 96. That has the Greek Ministry of Culture announced. Internationally, Theodorakis gained fame mainly with his musical contribution to the film Zorba the Greek (1964), to which the modern sirtaki is now danced worldwide. His compositions have been played by the Beatles, Shirley Bassey and Edith Piaf, among others. Theodorakis also inspired the resistance against the military dictatorship in Greece with activist songs.
During the junta in Greece, which lasted from 1967 to 1974, Theodorakis started a resistance movement. The colonel’s regime banned his music and arrested him, only to release and ban him from Greece in 1970 after an international campaign. From abroad, Theodorakis continued to resist and with performances he ensured international attention for the situation in his homeland. After the fall of the dictatorship, he returned to Greece and held several positions in parliament. He was also a minister without a specific portfolio between 1990 and 1992.
According to culture minister Lina Mendoni, Greece has “lost part of its soul” with the death of Theodorakis. In recent years, Theodorakis suffered from heart problems and was hospitalized several times. The cause of his death has not been disclosed.