What Bach might have written in a haze of hashish

What Bach might have written in a haze of hashish


norman lebrecht

August 07, 2020

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

Mikis Theodorakis, who turned 90 last month, earned worldwide fame for the music to the 1964 film Zorba the Greek and remained a poster-boy to the international Left for his unwavering commitment to Communism. Aside from his film music, his song-cycle The Ballad of Mauthausen ranks among the most beautiful music ever written about the Nazi Holocaust.

Less familiar are the composer’s classical roots….

Read on here.

And here.

And here in Spanish.

And here in Czech.

And in French.


  • Le Křenek du jour says:

    May I respectfully suggest emendations?

    ‘Zorba the Greek’ was directed by Michael Cacoyannis, not Costa-Gavras, and the year was 1964.

    The 1969 production by Costa-Gavras to which Theodorakis contributed the score was ‘Z’.

    Thank you.

  • He’s even older than that. He’s 95.

    But anyway, what an interesting discographic addition. I want to hear this one!

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Mikis Theodorakis turned 95 on July 29th.

  • Dimitri Vassilakis says:

    Mr Lebrecht :Zorba the Greek s producer is Michael Cacoyannis . The very talented Costa Gavras never produced this kind of movies

  • Daniel says:

    Dear Norman, Mikis turned 95 years on july 29 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikis_Theodorakis. A glorious age. Cheers

  • Greg Bottini says:

    – Quite possibly the most absurd headline *ever* on this site. Perhaps Norman himself has been kickin’ the gong around.

  • Norman,

    Theodorakis wrote several film scores. Two of the most famous ones are Zorba the Greek (directed my Michael Cacoyannis, 1964), and Z (directed by Costa Gavras, 1969). You mixed up these two.


  • Petros Linardos says:

    Zorba the Greek was released in 1964. It was written, produced, edited, and directed by Greek Cypriot Michael Cacoyannis and starring Anthony Quinn.

    The 1969 Gavras-Theodorakis collaboration was for “Z”.

  • Costa Pilavachi says:

    Dear Norman, it was Michael Cacoyannis who directed Zorba (1964). Gavras directed “Z”, the political thriller (1969). Gavras did indeed use already existing music by Theodorakis as the composer was on a Greek junta prison island at the time, but he was able to send his approval to the director.

  • Dimitri Vassilakis says:

    Likes Theodorakis was born on July 29/1925 , so he just turned 95 ! You make him younger !

  • “…a poster-boy to the international Left for his unwavering commitment to Communism.”

    Like saying all people on the right are Nazis.

    • Petros Linardos says:


      In fact, Theodorakis was anything but a poster boy of the left. While ideologically firmly rooted on the european left (which is vastly different from the US left), he has always been a very independent mind. In 1989 and the early 1990s he even became close to the conservative leader Konstantinos Mitsotakis, and joined his government in a rather titular position in 1991.

      • Ben G. says:

        His “Canto General” was to be performed in Strasbourg last June, but was cancelled due to obvious reasons. It is rescheduled for the summer of 2021. And yes, Theodorakis is 95.

        Additional info on his political ties and background mentioned above, can be found in Wikipedia:


        “He continued to speak out in favor of left-liberal causes, Greek–Turkish–Cypriot relations, and against the War in Iraq. He has consistently opposed oppressive regimes and was a key voice against the 1967–74 Greek junta, which imprisoned him and banned his songs.

        He met Pablo Neruda and Salvador Allende and promised them to compose his version of Neruda’s Canto General. He was received by Gamal Abdel Nasser and Tito, Yigal Allon and Yasser Arafat, while François Mitterrand, Olof Palme and Willy Brandt became his friends. For millions of people, Theodorakis was the symbol of resistance against the Greek dictatorship.

        Theodorakis has spoken out against the Iraq war and Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank has condemned Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou for establishing closer relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was guilty, he said, of “war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza.” Theodorakis is also a vocal critic of Zionism, and refers to himself as an “anti-Zionist.” Theodorakis, like many Greeks, greatly supported Serbia during the Yugoslav Wars. In support of the Serbs, he participated in a charity concert protesting the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

        During the invasion of Iraq, Theodorakis called Americans “detestable, ruthless cowards and murderers of the people of the world.” He said he would consider anyone who interacted with “these barbarians” for whatever reason as his enemy. Theodorakis has stated “American Jews are responsible for the world economic crisis that has hit Greece also.”

  • Hudson Valley says:

    Michael Cacoyannis wrote and directed Zorba. And some memorable Greek tragedies at the Circle In The Square in New York.