Mikis Theodorakis: ‘In Greek prison, we learn English’

Mikis Theodorakis: ‘In Greek prison, we learn English’


norman lebrecht

September 01, 2015

The formidable Greek composer, 90 this summer, speaks of his life and struggles in another fascinating interview from Bruce Duffie’s archive.

‘ I like very much the English language for his simplicity, for his music.  My dream is to learn English, but the only opportunity was when I was in prison, and my English is the English of the prison because in Greek prison we learn English.  The science of language is exciting because the language is not like an organism, like a tree.  It is life.  It’s very nice, it’s very nice.  But you can, I think, find character of one people with his musical language, the music of language.  For example, the Gothic, the German is very strong.  Ka-ka-ka.

‘ In Africa, the life is simple, so it is ah, oh, eh, oh… is all light.  His language is light, music dark.  Music is language of dark, language of life is light.  The other very intelligent side is the influence between the language and the way the world works.  Great works go to English language, to Italian, to German.  This is very nice.  For the moment the English language must be the international language.  I believe that.

BD:     For science and diplomacy?

MT:    No, no, for the people, too, because this language is very, very simple, I think.  Other languages… in Greek, for example, the syntax is very complicated.  French language — I lived in France forty years and I speak French.  It’s for me, I never lose it.  My accent is, because it’s very, very delicate, the French language.  Very difficult to pronounce, you know?  The foreigner, after two or three years, speaks English very, very well.  It is very important, this one.

Enjoy the full interview here.