You are here: News 2000

Onassis Award to Theodorakis III

Stelio Papdimitriou
Laudatio by Mr. Stelio Papadimitriou, President of the Onassis Foundation
In Honour of Mikis Theodorakis, Onassis International Prize For Culture (Arts & Humanities)

The Prize for Culture of the Onassis Foundation is awarded to music composer Mikis Theodorakis. It is a prize closely linked to his ethos and his cultural contribution.

Over approximately 60 years of active cultural life, this Cretan composer, born in one of the seven places claiming to be the birthplace of Homer - Chios - has worked with his art in almost all the forms and genres of music.

He embraced and carried with him poetry as well as turning it into a possession to be shared by all the people. With his art, he spread humanism in barbaric times.

He took in his hands a humble popular instrument, the bouzouki, and expressed with it the pains, the sorrows and the hopes of the people for bread, education and freedom, thus uniting them in deeds of unity and culture.

Together with the other great Greek composer, Manos Hadzidakis, he created a new, elevated form of Greek music, cherished by all Greek people, freeing it from the limitations of either the popular music or the classical one. He created a new aesthetic kind of instrumental music, which has its roots in popular Greek music, to which however he gave dimensions and potential which are ecumenical and ramifications which breathed new life to it.

The Onassis Foundation and the International Prizes Committee wish also to praise the moral standing and the intellectual integrity of Mikis Theodorakis,. qualities which distinguished and accompanied him throughout his life such as when he chose his own Thermopylae, and resolved to guard them "never from duty flinching". Also

the times when he had to say the great Yes and then the great No and he did not hesitate to act in accordance with what his conscience and his beliefs dictated, in the interest of the people and of the country, without fanaticism and intolerance, indifferent as usual as to the cost he had to suffer alone.

Today, we honour Mikis Theodorakis for everything he has been to all of us and as a brilliant music composer. In a few words for what he has offered to culture and for everything he stands for. A model of an upright and generous citizen. A quality not seen nowadays very often.

Stelio Papadimitriou. 7th November 2000

| Printer-friendly page | Send this article to a friend |