A great Greek poet, Odysseus Elytis, wrote in his "Worth Is - Άξιον Εστί" epic poem:
"I have been oxidated in the Big South Weather of humanity".
Watching this I see his point.
The particular song contacted by the composer (M. Theodorakis) with English subtitles here:
I definitely like the second link:
"Tis agapis aimata by Yiannis Kotsiras"
Are you sure the first link is right, though?
I guess people are "oxidated by humanity."
But I think Yiannis Kotsiras meant it in a good sense.
The first link seems to mean it in a very bad sense.
That's just my impression of events in the first link, and what people cry out.
Thanks for commenting, Ondib.
Kotsiras is only singing. The words are by the great poet Elytis (1979 Nobel prize in literature).
Having read the whole "Axion Esti" or "Worthy Is" poem and having heard all the songs set by Theodorakis, I think that this particular phrase is referring to both bad and good or "worthy" oxidation. But in general the song talks about "pure life", "distant mother" and "Rose unfading", in other words a "far from the madding croud" desirable situation.
Regarding the music, I used to be very critical of it in my youth for its simplicity, and I don’t think Elytis liked very much the seting of various songs from his epic poem by Theodorakis but he accepted it.
Now a days I am more tolerant also with Theodorakis approach and attitude towards great poetry and I appreciate also some of the technical devices he used for this secular oratorio, like the use of a popular singer, and of a Byzantine cantor, etc.
The message has to be simplified in musical terms/techniques used if it is going to reach the masses.
And it finally reached the masses in the 1960s when it was first received to a much greater extend than other more "sophisticated" music used to do in that decade.
When you mentioned Theodorakis, you triggered my memory. He wrote the music to my very favorite film of all time:
''Iphigenia'' is a 1977 Greek film directed by Michalis Kakoyannis based on the Greek myth of Iphigenia, the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra who was ordered by the goddess Artemis to be sacrificed.
ΜΙΑ ΤΑΙΝΙΑ ΤΟΥ ΜΙΧΑΛΗ ΚΑΚΟΓΙΑΝΗ ΜΕ ΤΗΝ ΕΙΡΗΝΗ ΠΑΠΑ, ΚΩΣΤΑ ΚΑΖΑΚΟ, ΚΩΣΤΑ ΚΑΡΡΑ, ΤΑΤΙΑΝΑ ΠΑΠΑΜΟΣΧΟΥ
Kakoyannis adapted the film (the third in his "Greek tragedy" trilogy after the released of ''Electra'' in 1962 and ''The Trojan Women'' in 1971) from his stage production of Euripides' play ''Iphigenia at Aulis''. The film stars Tatiana Papamoschou as Iphigenia, Kostas Kazakos as Agamemnon and the legendary actress Irene Papas as Clytemnestra. The score was composed by Mikis Theodorakis.
''Iphigenia'' was nominated for one Oscar, Best Foreign Language Film. It was also nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1977 (Cannes Film Festival). ''Iphigenia'' received the 1978 Belgian Femina Award and received the Best Film Award at the 1977 Thessaloniki Film Festival, where Tatiania Papamoschou also received the Best Leading Actress Award for her role as Iphigenia.
The whole film is online above, at that url.
My wife and I co-directed and produced a dramatic version of Euripides Iphigenia in Aulis" (inspired by this film version) in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
So there we have yet another great collaboration, Theodorakis with the ancient tragic poet Euripides, but this time distilled through the conscience and skills of a very poetic (imo) film director.
Yes I have seen it, it is a great film. And inspiring for us still by the looks of it cause it is a great tale. In fact Agamemnon and Abraham are really faced with the same problem, but I reckon Agamemnon was worse off cause he had a massive popular opposition to his sacrifice plus Clytemnestra's threats (finally she murdered him for it) whereas Abraham got off lightly.
I hope you enjoyed your efforts to produced it in Sri-Lanka and the people there liked it!
While we are on the Subjects of Theodorakis, Kakoyiannis and film music in general I want to pose a compound question to the whole forum that has bothered me the last 15 years that I am aware about some discrepancy in their joint output.
By posing it I don’t want in any sense whatsoever to put into question the integrity and ability of Theodorakis as a composer or as a political personage whom I always admire for his music and stance.
I just think of him as a very good melodist in whom perhaps the epic element overwhelms the lyric and that to me is present in his larger works and not so much in his songs. In any case I am most familiar with his songs.
Now, he really became world famous after 1964 for the music he wrote to the film "Zorba the Greek" again directed my Michalis Kakoyiannis (The later also became world famous after that film).
For people who are unfamiliar with the story I am afraid that the film is not going to enlighten them very much and there is no other way except reading Kazantzakis' novel "The Life and Politics of Alexi Zorba".
The story and the main characters are real and it happened in Messinia, Peloponnese as a business venture of Kazantzakis. Later this author dramatized this story and placed it in Crete. (BTW, the real name of the hero was George, not Alexi).
I first read the novel when I was 16-17 and since then another 3 or 4 times. It is superbly conceived, but it lacks in any translation.
According to its spirit (and to the general "Zorba Spirit") when the whole business venture has collapsed in front of their eyes, Zorba's only concern is to go and save the lamb that they are roasting in case it gets burned and after they eat and drink Kazantzakis says: "Come on, Zorba, teach me how to dance!"
Then the music starts and Alan Bates with Anthony Queen admittedly make a good job out of dancing it.
Result: Ever since 1964 everyone associates Greek music and Greek dancing with that tune in 2/4 rhythm and that scene in the film.
Was that beneficial for the general cultural promotion of Greece?
The dance is known as "Zorba dance" but there is not such entity in Greece as far as I know.
It is also known as "Syrtaki", meaning "Little Syrtos", which as "Syrtaki" is a local Cretan dance from Chania county in Western Crete and as "Syrtos" is a very ancient family of dances all over Greece.
To me two very important Ethnographical elements get confused and lost there. And I hold responsible both the film director and the composer.
This fast dance in 2/4 rhythm is Byzantine in origin, known as "Butchers' dance" from the butchers of Constantinople and is supposed to be denoting companionship and comradeship, so I suppose it is apt for the film scene, but nowhere in the novel Kazantzakis talks about such a dance.
Instead, in some passages in the novel Zorba is talking about his past and how he and his comrades used to prepare theme selves for the battle by dancing the "Zeibekiko" dance and he appears to be disdainful of other forms of dance when one is faced with catastrophe as "unmanly".
Therefore here we don’t have an actual re-presentation of his spirit and I think Kakoyiannis and Theodorakis missed completely the point.
Zeibekiko dance is a moderate (at best) form of dance in heavy 9/4 rhythm which is traced to the war-like tribe of Zeibeks in Anatolia, but I believe (based on other evidence) that its origins can be traced in antiquity even much earlier than the butchers dance. It is usually danced by one single or two dancers.
When danced by one man it symbolizes that man's philosophy of life and it is largely improvisational.
When danced by two men it symbolizes a confrontation or duel.
(When danced by the whole house as now a days, it just symbolizes our moral decadence).
Both of these scenarios (fast 2/4 and moderate 9/4) fit the scene of the film and the situation with which the two friends are faced, but here I take the second view (the 9/4 dance) as much more descriptive: They are not having a "jolly good" party, they want to confront the facts of life by dancing (as per Zorba's words: If you cannot describe it to me by words, then dance it to me and I understand even better"), and as nowhere in the novel Zorba is talking of "Butcher's dance" etc, I don’t think that this 2/4 jolly dance would even cross his mind (I also doubt if he could dance it, let alone teach it to some one else).
So my assessment is: Total failure by Theodorakis and Kakoyiannis to grasp the "Zorba Spirit" there, (and doing a lot of harm to Greece's cultural heritage and a serious injustice to Kazantzaki's novel).
Now I come to the actual music:
The well known tune with its turn of motivic phrases and driving fast rhythm is believed to be by Theodorakis and it is mainly this tune that made him world famous.
So I believed till 15 years ago when I became a lot more familiar with the traditional music of Crete.
But people in Crete laughed with my naivety at the beginning and they pointed me to the true composer of the tune, a well known lute player/singer of the 1950s named George Koutsourelis.
He wrote a song then, called "The Cretan Syrtaki" which in his recording he followed by some rather fast solo lute dance figurations to suite the mood of the dancers and which he did not consider amongst his most important output, I think.
Anyhow, after a few years he found that his tune (the fast dance) was world famous but he continued to be just a local lute player playing in weddings and fiestas for his bread. He brought a court action against Theodorakis (I don’t know when) but he lost.
I ask: Is this fair?
For forming your opinion:
George Koytsourelis: "The Cretan Syrtaki"
Get up, my little one, and dance the Cretan Syrtaki,
and give air to your heart to wave the grief away.
Mikis Theodorakis: "Zorba the Greek"