Mikis Theodorakis and Greece

The composer

The Composer of world renown, Mikis Theodorakis has passed away and I morn his departure. Most of us know him as the composer of the music in the films Zorba the Greek and the thriller Z. 

He was also a staunch defender of freedom and strongly opposed the military Junta for which he was jailed several times. I put here an interpretation of his music by our own indigenous dancers which I keep on posting because I think it is such a marvelous video to watch and admire.

They performed in many places including The Art Gallery of NSW, but this is the original version of it and in my opinion the best one.

My memories of Greece are of the same time as the birth of the Theodorakis song and dance Zorba, and it was during our trip by boat to Australia in 1966 that we landed in Athens (Piraus) during summer. It was hot and we had booked the obligatory tour of Athens including of course the Parthenon and the Temple of Zeus.

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Here we are looking rather blasé or ‘cool’ walking through the Parthenon’s stone rubble. I doubt that today one could get that close to it. Some years before I visited the pyramid of Cheops in Egypt and I and other tourists could actually crawl deep inside the pyramid and stand in the Queen’s chamber, Amazing.

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Here we are about 1973, in Holland where I worked as an artist and teacher. The little girl om the left is Natasha who has from yesterday resumed living in Balmain again near the water, after having moved from a place which she did not feel home in. It is a strange thing this feeling of ‘home’, not easily defined but you know instantly when you do. Many people define a home by the standard of the kitchen including the shape of taps, double sinks or the number of build-ins in the bedrooms. 

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The above is our first home around 1970 with our late daughter Susanna on the phone. All the walls had been stripped out to make a spacious living area. Note the small b/w TV with real buttons, on and off, channels, and soft or loud.! Modern TVs now come with a remote control with everything possible except simplicity of how to work it out!

It’s funny how the dullness of indefinite lockdowns start to wake up memories of the good times.  There is a palpable kind of fatigue setting in. You can tell walking the streets. People avert eye contact. It is all so laden with virus fear. The numbers of dead and infections at 11 am sharp om the TV doesn’t make for excitement ahead. Does It?

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18 Responses to “Mikis Theodorakis and Greece”

  1. auntyuta Says:

    What a beautiful blog. Thank, Gerard, thank you very much for publishing all this! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. janesmudgeegarden Says:

    I had forgotten about the indigenous version. Thanks for reminding me! It’s wonderful.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Therese Trouserzoff Says:

    HJi Gez. Hard to beat that Yolngu version. Apart from the dancers’ wonderful timing and amazing moves, it’s also hilarious. And the crowd thinks so too. I’m sure Mikis Theodorakis would think so too.

    I noticed that his passing set of a kind of reverie and it occurred to e that we’ve had a lot of our beloved musical greats pass in this shit of a year. Most recently Don Everly and Charlie Watts.

    And that set me off reflecting on our beloved David Bowie’s passing. Seemed like just yesterday, but it was, in fact it was January 10 2016.

    For me, his music is timeless and it takes many places in the songbooks (aka ‘The Grey Books’) from which just about every Uke player in Australia plays.

    Here’s one of his greatest performances…

    Ignore the first minute and a half of ego tripping. I think this performance has one of the greatest build ups in rock. Ever…

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, perhaps at my age I tend to take notice of death notices much more than births. Oddly enough, I get some nefarious pleasure out of the dearly departed having reached over ninety. It gives me hope. Mikis did well at 96.

      Yes, David did not go that far in years but did shift the music forward and pathed the way for others to shine.

      Tough times for the arts at the moment, Trouserzoff. I drive past the Mittagong/ Bowral pubs, all closed, galleries are shut, exhibitians postponed. It’s all so quiet.

      Like

  4. catterel Says:

    Sad to hear of the death of another great musician. Wonderful dancing – the word “limber” sprang to mind! Why were you wandering around the Parthenon in sweater, jacket and socks when temperatures were so high? I felt very nostalgic looking at the photo of your living room – must have some similar photos somewhere, too. (probably slides in magazines that haven’t been touched for 30 years=.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, curiously enough, I always thought we were there in summer but my memory is switching between the Athens and Cairo trips which were years apart, and at the age I am heading into, this might happen more frequently.
      So I rely on my dear readers to put straight.
      We got married in October and caught the boat to Australia from Genoa soon after. So, most likely we were sauntering around Athens close to winter, hence the big jumper, socks and jackets.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. shoreacres Says:

    The thing that caught me about the video — apart from the wonderful dancing — was the response of the crowd. There were certain movements and gestures that evoked such a response: far more than my own. I wondered if they were familiar to the crowd — perhaps incorporated from traditional dances that everyone knows.

    Zorba’s dance came to mind when I saw another video of old men dancing. One day I’m going to use it in a post, but I can’t resist sharing it here. Georgian men dancing to a Finnish song mixed by a South African dj — what could be better?

    Liked by 1 person

    • shoreacres Says:

      I just read this very interesting article about Australia’s way of dealing with the pandemic. It’s well-written, and not at all polemical. I thought you might be interested.

      Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes, Linda. Very well written. A good summary where Australia stands. The author is theoretically correct. These are harsh measures and draconian. It seems to test what we understand about freedom but practically it saves thousands of lives and look at countries where they did not adopt those strict measures?
        With the double vaccinations it is expected that Australia will free up around November. I feel it has been the correct decision, harsh as it seems. It has achieved an applaudable result and our hospitals haven’t been over burdened., keeping people safe.
        It is wrong to conflate this as some kind of totalitarian regime but is typical of todays reporting.

        Liked by 2 people

      • auntyuta Says:

        Gerard, you say ‘our hospitals haven’t been over burdened’.
        Sadly this has changed now, don’t you think?

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        No, as yet there are 1030 people in NSW hospitals Covid related
        175 are in intensive care with 72 requiring ventilation.

        The hospitals are busy while understaffed and underfunded but not overburdened.

        Like

      • auntyuta Says:

        “understaffed and underfunded but not overburdened.”
        Not overburdened? How so, Gerard? Well, I for one would not like to have to be admitted to a hospital that is understaffed and underfunded.
        Here is the link to an article that says: COVID-19 pandemic modelling leaves NSW hospital staff ‘worried’ and ‘scared’
        ABC Western Sydney /
        By Maryanne Taouk
        Posted 1h ago
        https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-07/nsw-hospital-staff-worried-over-covid-19-pandemic-modelling/100438010

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        I don’t know how we got from Theodorakis and Greece to talk about hospitals, Uta.

        At the moment the forecast is that the hospitals will be able to cope with the expected surge in Covid patients. There are enough ventilators and beds available.

        Worried nurses and staff is another issue which has to do with the chronic underfunding of public hospitals due to following the US in forever giving tax cuts.

        Like

      • auntyuta Says:

        “There are enough ventilators and beds available.”
        I am very sorry, but this does not apply to every hospital any more. Things do change by the minute. Of course politicians would like to keep people in the dark for as long as possible.
        https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/09/pandemic-australia-still-liberal-democracy/619940/
        Well, this article made us think about the pandemic, didn’t it?
        So better let’s enjoy what we can still enjoy and forget for a while this bloody pandemic. How some people have to suffer because of it saddens me too much.

        Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, that video of the Greek dancing was done amongst their own mob of indigenous people cheering them on. It was impromptu but obviously rehearsed beforehand. It looks as if they used a basketball courtyard.
      Love that video of old Georgian men dancing. How lovely.

      Liked by 1 person

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