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My farewell to Mikis Theodorakis – Der Freitag

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/09/2021 - 5:22pm in

I must have been 6 or 7 years-old when I got whiff of the significance of Theodorakis’ music. It was around 1968 when my parents warned me not to tell anyone at school or in the neighbourhood that they owned records of his – and certainly not to admit that we listened to them. “Even singing one of his tunes can get you arrested”, I recall my mum telling me. Immediately I realised that, for our hated fascist dictators to be so scared of his music, it must have been powerful.

At first, I was not sure whether I liked Theodorakis’ music because it was illegal or because it was good. It was in 1970 when I knew I loved its musical structure. The realisation hit me when my piano teacher, Jenny Protopapas was her name, wrote up for me the music score of one of his songs, entitled “Mana mou kai Panagia” (Mum and Madonna). As I learned to play it, I felt every note hitting me like an emotional tornado. To this day, when I play that song, I forget who I am, where I am, everything – immersing my being within the universe that these few, brilliantly arranged notes create.

By the time the dictatorship collapsed in 1974 I had a long list of Theodorakis songs that I could play, well before the record shops were, once more, allowed to sell his records. So, when in 1975, I heard that Theodorakis would perform live at a football stadium in Neo Phaliro, near Piraeus, I rushed to buy my ticket – the first ever gig I attended alone. When the performance started, I joined the merger of a crowd starved for democracy and a music made to shake the heavens until tyranny crashed and burned. At some point, his body pulsating with his melodies, Theodorakis changed tack, moving from his Greek songs to Canto General (his orchestral work based on the exquisite poem by Pablo Neruda). Suddenly, the whole stadium was transported to Chile and began to throb with a sense of one-ness with every people in the world that had suffered despotism, fascism, exploitation and dictatorship. Having walked into the stadium a 15 year-old Greek boy, I left it feeling older and at once Latin American, Indian, Jewish, Arab etc.

Soon after, I got into blues-derived music – especially when I moved to Britain in 1978. But, Therodorakis’ music never left me. Every now and then, one of his tunes would pop up in my head and disrupt everything I was up to. It was then, however, I realised I was not the only one. People from all walks of life, from different countries and cultures, would confess to me that Theodorakis had somehow touched them. More recently, my friend – and musical hero – Brian Eno let me into the secret that Theodorakis’ music had inspired in him a sense of courage.

So, why was Mikis so important to people like myself? For a number of intertwined reasons.

His music touched strings in our soul that other tunes did not reach.

He helped re-invent Greek popular music by blending it seamlessly with some of the best modern Greek poetry – thus putting high brow poems, as lyrics, in the mouths and hearts of building site workers, cleaners, taxi drivers etc.

He transcended Greece’s borders with ecumenical orchestral music that touched people far and wide – for example, he composed the best music ever to have been inspired by the Holocaust (the Mauthausen Trilogy), the aforementioned Canto General, the splendid soundtracks to Costa Gavra’s movies Z and State of Siege or Sidney Lumet’s Serpico, featuring a young Al Pacino.

And, above all else, his music made it impossible to listen to it and be, in your soul, right-wing, authoritarian or xenophobic.

Farewell Miki

For the Der Freitag original webpage see here

The post My farewell to Mikis Theodorakis – Der Freitag appeared first on Yanis Varoufakis.

Book at Lunchtime: Porcelain - Poem on the Downfall of my City

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 25/06/2021 - 5:22pm in


German, poetry

TORCH Book at Lunchtime webinar on Porcelain: Poem on the Downfall of my City by Durs Grünbein, translated by Professor Karen Leeder. Book at Lunchtime is a series of bite-sized book discussions held weekly during term-time, with commentators from a range of disciplines. The events are free to attend and open to all.

About the book:

Porcelain is a book-length cycle of forty-nine poems written over the course of more than a decade that together serve as a lament for Durs Grünbein’s hometown, Dresden, which was destroyed in the Allied firebombing of February 1945. The book is at once a history and “declaration of love” to the famed “Venice on the Elbe,” so catastrophically razed by British bombs; a musical fusion of eyewitness accounts, family memories, and stories, of monuments and relics; the story of the city’s destiny as seen through a prism of biographical enigmas, its intimate relation to the “white gold” porcelain that made its fortune and reflections on the power and limits of poetry.

Published in English for the first time, this translation by Professor Karen Leeder marks the seventy-fifth year anniversary of the firebombing.

Panel includes:

Professor Karen Leeder is a Professor of Modern Languages at Oxford University and a Fellow of New College, Oxford. She has published widely on modern German culture and is a prize-winning translator of contemporary German literature, most recently winning the English PEN award and an American PEN/Heim award for her translation of Ulrike Almut Sandig. She was a TORCH Knowledge Exchange Fellow with the Southbank Centre from 2014-15 and she currently works with MPT, Poet in the City, and The Poetry Society on her project Mediating Modern Poetry.

Durs Grünbein was born on 9 October 1962 in Dresden. He is one of the most important and internationally powerful German poets and essayists. After the opening of the Iron Curtain, he traveled through Europe, Southeast Asia, and the United States. He was a guest of the German Department of New York University and The Villa Aurora in Los Angeles. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Georg Büchner Prize, the Friedrich Nietzsche Prize, the Friedrich Hölderlin Prize and the Polish Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award. His books have been translated into several languages. He lives in Berlin and Rome.

Edmund de Waal is an internationally acclaimed artist and writer, best known for his large-scale installations of porcelain vessels, often created in response to collections and archives or the history of a particular place. His interventions have been made for diverse spaces and museums worldwide, including The British Museum, London; The Frick Collection, New York; Ateneo Veneto, Venice; Schindler House, Los Angeles; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna and V&A Museum, London. De Waal is also renowned for his bestselling family memoir, The Hare with Amber Eyes (2010), and The

White Road (2015). His new book, Letters to Camondo, a series of haunting letters written during lockdown was published in April 2021. He was made an OBE for his services to art in 2011 and awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction by Yale University in 2015. Born 1964 Nottingham. He lives and works in London.

Professor Patrick Major is Professor of History at the University of Reading, where he is also an associate of the East German Studies Archive. His research interests are primarily the political, social and cultural history of divided Germany in the Cold War. He has published on the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall and Hollywood's depictions of 'bad Nazis' and 'good Germans', and is currently researching the bombing of Berlin in the Second World War.

Burda International Cuisine Festive Menus: Stuffed Eggs (1978)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 08/05/2021 - 11:55pm in

FUN FACT! May is National Egg Month!!! Honestly, it seems like Egg Month should be April because; Easter. But perhaps the Egg Council of America people missed their chance to claim it. Speaking of Easter, I had leftover dyed eggs from my Easter Braid that I needed to kill, which is why I decided toContinue reading Burda International Cuisine Festive Menus: Stuffed Eggs (1978) →

Rereading East Germany

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/05/2016 - 12:27am in


Film, German

A Book at Lunchtime discussion tracing the cultural legacy of the GDR with Karen Leeder, Dennis Tate, Sara Jones, Marc Silberman and Tom Smith 'Rereading East Germany: Literature and Film in the GDR' is the first volume to address the culture of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) as a historical entity, but also to trace the afterlife of East Germany in the decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall. It provides a 'rereading' of East Germany and its legacy as a cultural phenomenon free from the prejudices that prevailed while it existed.
The editor of the volume Karen Leeder (Professor of Modern German Literature, University of Oxford) discusses these issues with Dennis Tate (Professor of German Studies, University of Bath), Sara Jones (Senior Birmingham Fellow, University of Birmingham) and Marc Silberman (Professor of German, University of Wisconsin-Madison). The discussion is chaired by Tom Smith (Lecturer in German, University of Oxford).