Thousands gather in Greece for composer Theodorakis’ funeral

AP Entertainment

People gather to pay their last respect to the late Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, as the hearse drives among the crowd, prior to his burial, in Chania, Crete island, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 9 2021. Theodorakis died Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 at 96. He penned a wide range of work, from somber symphonies to popular TV and film scores, including for “Serpico” and “Zorba the Greek.” He is also remembered for his opposition to the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967-1974, when he was persecuted and jailed and his music outlawed.  (AP Photo/Harry Nakos)

Political leaders, family members and thousands of fans paid their final respects to Greek music great Mikis Theodorakis who was buried Thursday on the island of Crete.

Holding flowers and olive branches, onlookers dressed in black sang songs composed by Theodorakis as his casket was carried from a chapel to the cemetery near the port city of Chania.

Theodorakis, who died last week, aged 96, was known internationally for his political activism and prolific musical career that included a wide range of work, from rousing symphonies to popular TV and film scores, including for “Serpico” and “Zorba the Greek.”

He is also remembered for his opposition to the military dictatorship that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974, a time during which he was persecuted and jailed and his music outlawed.

Before his casket was lowered into the ground, Greek musician Dimitris Basis sang the sorrowful 1960 composition “Mana Mou Kai Panagia” — My Mother and Holy Mary. Showing visible emotion, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou stood close by and mouthed the words.

An integral part of the Greek political and musical scene for decades, Theodorakis died last Thursday in Athens. His body lay in state in a chapel of the Athens Cathedral for three days, before being transported to Crete by ferry overnight.

Thousands awaited him on the island, where the municipal band led the way as his hearse drove to Chania cathedral.

The country’s prime minister and opposition party leaders also traveled to the village of Galatas, on the outskirts of Chania, Theodorakis ancestral home, where the main funeral service was held.

“We bid farewell to a great ecumenical Greek who served the values ​​of freedom, justice and unity of his countrymen,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

“It is a fitting farewell to quietly sing his songs today, to honor the memory of this great and unique composer.”

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