Athens, September 2. The great musician and friend of Cuba Mikis Theodorakis passed away. Composer of numerous masterpieces such as Canto General (Poetry by Pablo Neruda), Zorba and multiple other masterpieces, whose musical genius is considered to have contributed decisively to the cultural renaissance of post-war Greece, he had the opportunity to meet with Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro and the heroic guerrillaman Ernesto Che Guevara, in Cuba, with whom he forged a great friendship.
We reproduce below fragments of the stories published about his visits and friendship with these two great men:
The Greek composer met Fidel Castro in 1962, when he visited Cuba as a member of the United Democratic Left (EDA) together with another EDA deputy, Evanhegelos Sakellaris, as guests of the revolutionary government. It was the time when the whole island sang and danced to the tune of “Luna de miel”, a composition by Theodorakis that had become very popular. They had stayed for a week, when Theodorakis explained that he wanted to leave because at that time he was in poor health and the humid climate of Havana was bad for him. Theodorakis later said that Che Guevara told him: “You are not going anywhere. We have mountains with pure air. Tomorrow I am going to the Sierra Maestra and I will stop by the hotel to pick you up and take you with me. Despite objections, Guevara was adamant. In the morning they picked him up and spent “a memorable week with Che Guevara,” Theodorakis said. Theodorakis also befriended Fidel Castro and they exchanged letters.
On July 29, 1981 Theodorakis gave a concert in Havana, invited by Fidel Castro himself. The composer presented one of his great works, Canto General, based on the poem by Pablo Neruda, the work was performed by a Cuban orchestra accompanied by the Greek singers Maria Farantouri and Giorgos Dalaras. Fidel Castro appeared unexpectedly at the concert in Havana’s Plaza de la Catedral. The audience cheered “Long live Fidel!” At the end of the concert, Fidel Castro hugged Theodorakis, praising his work. The two men admired each other and shared a mutual respect. Castro hugged Theodorakis and said: “Music is more difficult than politics, that’s why there are more politicians than musicians.” And he continued: “And there are far fewer revolutionary artists. Although artists want revolution, there are many more politicians who are not revolutionaries. But being a revolutionary artist is more significant than being a politician ”.
Links to the videos of that meeting: https://youtu.be/KROIPKaVJOc and https://youtu.be/VvBVlhgNih0
Throughout his life, Mikis Theodorakis maintained his love and friendship for Cuba. Before his death, despite being ill, he was a member of the Honor Committee and one of the signatories of the request to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the internationalist contingent of Cuban doctors Henry Reeve.
The Cuban people loved and admired Theodorakis, who will always remain in their hearts.
Next, a letter of condolences from the Cuban Embassy in Greece to Theodorakis’s family and friends.
Athens, September 2, 2021
To the family and friends of the great Mikis Theodorakis:
It is with deep sorrow that we have known the death of the great musician Mikis Theodorakis. Please receive our deepest condolences for the loss of this great man and friend of Cuba.
Mikis was a revolutionary, and a close friend of the Cuban people, especially Commander in Chief Fidel Castro and the Heroic Guerrilla man Ernesto Che Guevara.
We remember when he went to Cuba, his meeting with Fidel, his wonderful concert in the Plaza de la Catedral in Havana with his work Canto General.
With deep emotion we also remember his words when the Commander in Chief passed away and Mikis wrote: “My beloved Fidel, You have left us and it is the first time that I disagree with you. Athens, 11.26.2016 “.
We always remember his support for the Cuban Revolution and as even being ill, he supported with his signature the request for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for the internationalist contingent of Cuban doctors Henry Reeve.
Men like Mikis Theodorakis carry within them an inextinguishable light that shines beyond death, with the sound of his music and the great significance of his life and work.
As our National Hero José Martí said. “Death is not true when the work of life has been well done” and Mikis has had an extraordinary work throughout his life.
Thanks to Mikis for his friendship and solidarity with the Cuban people, who love him as one of his children.
I reiterate our sympathy and we assure you that Mikis will always live in the hearts of Cubans.
Zelmys Marìa Domínguez Cortina