Epitafios Mikis Theodorakis

Epitafios Mikis Theodorakis

Performed by the Municipal Choir of Deryneia

Those of us who live in the “Kokkinohoria” of Eastern Cyprus are blessed to have the Municipal Choir of Deryneia in close proximity to us – A dynamic choir led by a dynamic and energetic conductor, Giorgos Kalogirou. The choir frequently puts on fabulous performances for our entertainment.

“Epitafios” is a poem written by Giannis Ritsos in 1936 when 12 people died during a violent rally by tobacco workers who were on strike. One of the dead was 25 year-old Tassos Tousis. On May the 10th 1936, the poet saw a photo in a newspaper of the boy’s mother grieving over her son’s dead body. He was so moved by the image that he felt inspired to write “Epitafios” his most celebrated work. From the next day he wrote almost non-stop for the next two days, practically not eating or sleeping. After two days he had completed the first 14 parts. These were published immediately. The full poem was published two months later. Within days 9,750 copies of the 10,000 copies printed had been sold (the other 250 copies were seized by Metaxas’ men).

When Ritsos republished the poem in 1958, he sent a copy to Theodorakis who read it in his parked car while waiting for his wife to finish her shopping. “I was suddenly seized by a deep desire to set it to music,” he said afterwards during an interview. That very afternoon, he composed most of the music for it.

At the time Theodorakis was still suffering from fainting and epileptic fits that resulted from the torture he received during his exile in 1949 to 1950. Writing the music had a therapeutic effect on him and his health started improving.

It is now over 80 years since Ritsos wrote Epitafios. Put to music by Theodorakis, it still inspires and moves audiences today. On July 11th 2018 the Municipal Choir of Deryneia put on a superb performance of eight songs from Epitafios and a further 23 other selected works of Theodorakis. Deryneia’s amphitheatre filled – in spite of the the fact that July 11th was also a world cup semi-final. Thank you ‘Municipal Choir of Deryneia’ for your stirring performance!


Epitafios Mikis Theodorakis

In November 17 The Municipal Choir of Deryneia organised another great performance of Theodorakis - by three choirs