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10.-11.03.: Symposium - Statements (II)

Top level News 2006

Universal Harmony by Mikis Theodorakis

Universal Harmony
Mikis Theodorakis - Honorary Docror of the University of Crete

Theodorakis interviewed by KRITI TV

In my talk I shall recall the experience of my boyhood and adolescence that led to the intuitive conception of a theory of the Universal Harmony. The written formulation and acceptance of this theory took place at a time, in 1942, when I had not yet studied and understood its challenging similarities with the Pythagorean theory of the relation between universal and earthly harmony. During the foreign occupation of Greece (1941-1944) - when I was not striving against the enemy, and when the enemy did not torture me - I battled alone with a violin in a little county town, seeking the Laws of Music. I also studied the riches bequeathed to us by the ancient Greek tragic poets and philosophers, and also modern Greek poetry.

My adolescent metaphysical interests, my study of the books of the astronomers, and the music I explored daily, led me to experience with ecstasy an ocean of sounds and harmonies, and I tried to make sense of the musical idea that had captured my mind. It was an indescribably wonderful experience; I was convinced that with my music I was mirroring the Harmony of the Universe. I felt like an active molecule in the perpetual motion of universal, harmonic becoming.

The theory of Universal Harmony was articulated musically and poetically in 1943, in my symphonic work called Symphony No 1. With sound and rhyme I was seeking: seeking God in the Light that filled the Universe; in “sound impalpable like Silence”; in the void of Darkness; in Fire and Music, those gifts of the Gods; in Spiritual Drunkenness; in Apollo and in Dionysus; in the fundamental Antithesis of Chaos and Order; in the reflections of Antithesis in the Theban Cycle (Jocasta, Eteocles, Polynices, Creon, Antigone, Oedipus); in the perpetual alternation of Love-and-Duty, Authority-and-Violence. I pursued a bifocal vision of celestial Harmony and Chaos, and of their reflections on Earth and in Man’ s Destiny - Thesis and Antithesis, making Synthesis, Strife, New Synthesis, with no beginning and no end.

My theory of Harmony in the Universe – seed of my adolescent imagination – was experientially and intuitively convergent with the theories of Pythagoras and Heraclitus. But in what way can the Music of the Spheres be reflected in human Music?

In my talk I shall analyze the theories of musical Harmony and Counterpoint that resolve the static and dynamic relations of tones. I shall describe their dialectic relation - “Thesis + Antithesis = Synthesis” - not only in Music, but in social life and political ideologies as well. I shall describe the concept of Harmony according to Pythagoreans and Heraclitus, and I shall show that in the Pythagorean theory the well-turned intervals of any consonance correspond to a remarkably simple analogy of numbers. I shall also explain how in my first text (1942) I defined the relation between Universal Harmony and Art, and how I would define this relation today.

I knew that my theory concerning the existence of the Law of the Universal Harmony was born and bred out of my imagination, that, in difficult years, it was a mental fruit that helped me to coordinate my psychic cosmos in step with the Universe, this womb of Energy, Harmony and Life. I thought that Life acquires meaning to the degree that it is coordinated with Universal Harmony, the sacred Center of which attracts our existence with an Irrational Logic, in a perpetual, incomprehensible and impalpable Game, apparently without meaning or purpose.

My talk shall close with a brief reference to the relevant theories of Anaximander and Plato, as well as with some awesome questions concerning the process of musical synthesis, and the unanswerable “why” and “how” certain people can “listen” to and creatively transfer to Earth the tones of Universal Harmony, while certain other people bring down Chaos.

In the Epilogue, as a well-intentioned challenge of Art to Science, I shall make reference to how far selfish greed, pure rationalism and blind religious faith have led people of the Western world so far from the philosophical and existential inspiration of the ancient philosophers, musicians, poets and dramatists.

As there were men who thousands of years ago turned their eyes and thoughts to the sky to discover the nature of Harmony and Music, I think it is not so strange that in our time the thoughts of these immortals could be imitated by an ordinary mortal who, being unaware of their work, was led to the same conclusions through his Music. In other words, while long ago, the Sky led Pythagoras to Music, today this ordinary mortal man followed Music to the Sky.

Part III


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