Mikis and Manos: A Tale of Two Composers
In the 1960s two different recordings of Yiannis Ritsos’ poemEpitaphios were released.One was by Mikis Theodorakis and the other by Manos Hadjidakis. These two distinct recordings of the most radical and powerful music modern Greece had yet heard came to reflect the two different visions modern Greece has for itself; two visions that continue to divide the country to this day. The first, a progressive though amorphous populism with socialist roots, representing a nationalist and sometimes strident “Greece-first” philosophy; the other, a deep respect and awe for the achievements of Western civilization, a desire to live inside a world without fanatics and fanaticism. In his essay Nick Papandreou examines the progress of Epitaphios and narrates the
unique rivalry between the two composers, two colorful personalities whose work has shaped the history of modern Greece.
Nick Papandreou was born in San Francisco in 1956, went to high school in Canada (1969-1974) where he lived with his family during the Greek dictatorship, studied economics and political science at Yale and received his Ph.D. in economics from Princeton in 1986. After Greek military service and a few years at the World Bank, he abandoned economics and took up the writing of fiction.