Piecing together the life, work of Manos Hadjidakis

The year 2005 marks the 80-year anniversary since composer Manos Hadjidakis’s birth; he was born on October 23, 1925. Although this is not the reason the Orchestra of Colors recently published a highly interesting edition about the composer (and the orchestra’s founder), the edition is a reminder that 2005 is a commemorative year for Hadjidakis. The very fastidiously produced edition, published by Icaros Publications on behalf of the Orchestra of Colors, is of real collective value: titled «Manos Hadjidakis – Mosaic of Memory,» its 180 pages contain texts of great interest which were published in various periodicals between 1996 and 2004 and which complement each other in giving a fair assessment of the composer and his work. In the edition, it is mentioned that the aim of the compilation of texts is to create a web of different views, which reveals the great composer’s sharp and subversive spirit. The collection was edited by Vicky Galatou and the texts were selected and edited by musicologist Aleka Symeonidou, while Giorgos Tzamtzis and Aphrodite Daskalaki had the artistic supervision. One of the first revealing texts written after Hadjidakis’s death and the first public «confession» of poet Agathi Dimitrouka, partner of Nikos Gatsos for the last 20 years of his life, was the interview she gave to this journalist in October 1994, which was published in the Nea Messimvrini newspaper on July 7, 1994. Extracts of this interview are included in the edition. When asked how Gatsos viewed his friend’s sexual preferences, Dimitrouka replied that despite his Peloponnesian origins, Gatsos had no prejudices. «He would often tell Hadjidakis that all women were in love with him, so it was a good thing that he wasn’t interested, otherwise there would be no women left for anyone else. They would both laugh and recite an amusing incident which took place after Hadjidakis returned from the United States in the early ’70s. He had brought with him a suitcase that locked with a combination, a novelty at the time. He asked Nikos (Gatsos) to guess what the combination was and he remembered that Hadjidakis had mentioned in a letter the date he had met a young man. He bet on the date and the suitcase opened.» A piece by playwright Iakovos Kambanellis, published in Ta Nea newspaper on June 17, 2004, reveals another aspect of Hadjidakis’s personality which is not widely known. «When I took over the National Radio, I was assigned a car with the same chauffer that Manos had had. He confided in me that every month Hadjidakis would give him a few envelopes with money to deliver to some lonely old men and women who lived in various neighborhoods in Athens. But he told me not to tell Hadjidakis that I knew of this, because the composer would be angry. Mano, I am sorry if I said something you wouldn’t have liked me to, but it is what I admire in you.» Another opinion is given from an entirely different sector of the music circuit, by singer and songwriter Yiannis Angelakas, founding member of the rock band Trypes, and which was published in the Eleftherotypia newspaper in June 2004: «There was no Hadjidakis legend for us. We went mad over the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Cure… Now that the years have passed and I am over 40, I realize exactly what had happened. Out of instinct, we knew who we had behind us. At a time when we were showing off our insensitivity and cynicism, Hadjidakis had overcome the facade of punk and crept into our souls. He kept the tenderness alive. He gave us courage and faith that we could transcend a world we hated. He brought us back to the right attitude. He caused a revolution inside us and I am grateful to him for that.»