Hundreds of Athenians gathered on Monday outside a chapel at Athens’ Metropolitan Cathedral and raised their voices in song to pay their final respects to Greek composer and politician Mikis Theodorakis.
Theodorakis, an outsize figure and a hugely popular composer of popular songs, in addition to numerous chamber, symphonic music and ballet works, died last Thursday at 96. He was also a passionate political activist, who, although he said he wanted to die a communist, often ignored ideological boundaries.
Theodorakis’ body arrived almost two hours late, the result of a dispute over burial details. He will be buried on Crete on Thursday, next to his parents and brother, as he wished. He wrote a letter in October to Greek Communist Party chief Dimitris Koutsoumbas in October, entrusting him with the funeral arrangements.
“Now, at the end of my life, at the time of taking stock, details are erased from my mind and the ‘Big Things’ remain. So, I see that I spent my most crucial, forceful and mature years under KKE’s banner. For this reason, I want to depart this world as a communist,” Theodorakis wrote, according to the Associated Press.
Mourners gathered at the Athens cathedral on the first day of the public tribute also sang his songs, while a German composer and former associate of the legendary Greek artist, Henning Zierock, performed iconic melodies on his guitar in an impromptu concert.
Theodorakis’ body will lie in state from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday.