'Zorba the Greek' composer Theodorakis buried in Crete

Chania (Greece) (AFP) –


Renowned Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, who scored the 1964 film "Zorba the Greek", was buried on Thursday in Crete where thousands converged to pay homage to the man who came to personify the country's modern music.

Adored in Greece for his inspirational music and defiance during the junta that ruled from 1967-74, Theodorakis died last week at age 96.

His coffin was laid out on Thursday morning at the cathedral in Chania, where a steady trickle of admirers came to pay their respects before he was taken to Galatas cemetery to be buried.

Speaking to the press, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said this was "the last journey of the great ambassador of Greekness".

"We say goodbye, as he deserves, to the last great Greek of the 20th century."

Theodorakis's coffin arrived in Crete, where his family was from, on Thursday morning from Athens where it had been on display for three days in the capital's cathedral.

At a ceremony on Wednesday to say goodbye, the head of the Communist Party of Greece said: "All your life you have held the gun in one hand and your scores in the other."

"Impulsive, revolutionary, passionate, your music shows that our world must change and can change," said Dimitris Koutsoumbas.

Theodorakis joined the resistance against the German and Italian occupation of Greece when he was just 17, during World War II.

Liberation in 1944 was followed almost immediately by civil war between the communists and royalists.

By the time he graduated from Athens Conservatory in 1950, Theodorakis had already been sent to deportation camps on several occasions.

At one point, he was sent to the dreaded Makronisos island prison off the eastern coast of Attica, where he was tortured as a "red".

After studying music at the Paris Conservatory, Theodorakis was elected to parliament as a left-wing deputy in 1964.

When a dictatorship seized control of the government in a 1967 coup, Theodorakis was among the first left-wing politicians to be arrested.

Pardoned a year later, he was involved in setting up the clandestine Patriotic Front, which led to another detention and a ban on his works.

Even in old age, he maintained an active interest in Greek politics.