Mikis Theodorakis: Symphony no. 2 / Il Canto della Terra

Lately a channel on YouTube published an audio-video with the complete symphony number two. An amazing, very impressive composition!



There was hardly some English information to be found: not on the official website, not in Wikipedia, not in Gail Holst’s biography about Mikis, not in Guy Wagner’s and Asteris Koutoulas’s Chronology, not in the so many music catalogues on websites like Schott music.

The Cretan Mikis Theodorakis website though wrote about it in an article, but in Greek, and I have tried to translate it with google. Translating with google is dangerous: sometimes google offers words that are not the right words within a sentence. In the following text I built up a new old story of facts. If there are mistakes in facts, please contact me.


Two different times                                                                                                                   Symphony number two has been composed in two different times. The first time is a period between 1954 and 1958, the second in 1982. The symphony found its start in Paris. In this post I created the A-time (1954-1958) and the B-time (1982).


A. Paris (1954-1958)                                                                                                                   Mikis Theodorakis started composing the Symphony no. 2 in Paris in the years between 1954 and 1958, the time that he lived and studied in Paris at the Conservatoire, after he received a bursary for it in 1953. He was a student of Olivier Messiaen for musical analysis, and of Eugène Bigot for conducting, while Myrto finished her studies as a radiologist at the CurieInstitute.


If I understood the information on the Cretan website in the right way, then this period in Paris has been written down in music in the first three parts of the complete (four parts) Symphony, and must have been an expression of his tortured inbeing, his passioned connection with politics and resistance movements, with the civil war in Greece, with Makronisos, the island where leftists got imprisoned, including Mikis Theodorakis himself, and with the need to heal that torture by expressing it in music, this symphony, with more than words can tell.

As a kind of an anti-force towards evil, by facing it, and transforming it. On the Cretan website: “…the first three parts have the seal of the dramatic and tragic elements that characterize the psychology of the composer at that time.”


B. The threat for an ecological disaster by a nuclear war (1982)                            In 1982 Symphony no. 2 has been completed by adding the fourth part, based on the threat for an ecological disaster by a nuclear war, and by composing an additional song for children’s choir, at the end of part three, with lyrics written by Mikis Theodorakis himself:

Το τραγούδι της                                                                                                                                  Γης δεν τ’ άκουσες ποτέ                                                                                                                   ούτε θ’ ακούσεις πια.                                                                                                               Σκότωσες όλα τα πουλιά                                                                                                                         τα δάση                                                                                                                                                   το νερό                                                                                                                                                     το λαμπερό νερό                                                                                                                                  τον ποταμό.                                                                                                                               Πάει…                                                                                                                                              Σκότωσες το χώμα                                                                                                                              τον ήλιο                                                                                                                                                 την καρδιά σου.                                                                                                                                Ποτέ δεν θα ξαναδείς                                                                                                                                             

το χρώμα τ’ ουρανού                                                                                                                          δεν θ’ ακούσεις ποτέ                                                                                                                            τον ήχο των χρωμάτων.                                                                                                                                     

Σαν βολίδα προχωρείς στο χάος.                                                                                                     Στερνή φορά ας ακουστεί μες στη σιωπή                                                                                        το τραγούδι της Γης.                                                                                                                        Πριν τελικά τυλιχτώ στο χάος                                                                                                          ένα “γεια σου” θα πω στη ζωή.

The reason for using the voices of children has been Mikis Theodorakis’s need for the expression of Purity, Innocence and Vulnerability of Nature, of Earth, of Creation, of Life, Universe, of All Existance.

The Song of the Earth
We never heard it…..

And we will never ever hear it
All birds
The shining waters
Are dead….

If you bomb my Soil
The Sun
Your heart…

You will never see Me again
Me, Your Mother
The colour of the Sky
You will never hear anymore
The Sound of my Colours….

Like a Fireball
Moving forward
Into Chaos

As a last presence
You will hear 
Amid the Silence
The Song of the Earth
Me, The Mother

Singing my Song
Before finally rolling into
An embrace
For you.
As a part
Of my Life.

The Mother.
Your Mother
Our Mother.

(Free translated by Antoinette)


Information about the concert in the audio-video “Symphony no. 2”, The Song of the Earth, for Children’s Choir, solo piano and orchestra, sung text (3 rd movement) taken from the poem “The Song of the Earth” by Mikis Theodorakis                                                                                                                       Conductor: Mikis  Theodorakis                                                                                                       Solo Piano: Cyprien Katsaris                                                                                                     Children’s Choir: “Princesse Marie-Astrid”                                                                          Director Children’s Choir: Léon Krain                                                                                   Orchestra: Orchestre Symphonique de RTL


Cyprien Katsaris



  • 1. Andante – Andante moderato – Andante cantabile – Allegro marcato – Andante
  • 2. Presto – Adagio – Vicace – Adagio – Andante sostenuto
  • 3. Andante – Andante cantabile – Lento
  • 4. Finale (Presto – Adagio – Dolce)

Part 1, 2 and 3 have the seal of the dramatic and tragic elements that characterize the psychology of the composer at that time (1954 to 1958 ).                                                         Part 4  is for the most part based on the Cretan rhythms and full of life, power, brilliance and optimism (1982)

The Symphony no. 2 was at first intended to go up as a ballet for the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.

Other performance:                                                                                                                     Athens State Orchestra                                                                                                          Children’s Choir Lycée (D / Division Royal Catherine)                                                        Soloist (piano) Maria Asteriadou                                                                                            Address: Elias Voudouris


Note                                                                                                                                                       The title of the video where this post starts with contains the years 1980-1981. This must be a mistake, because on the official Cretan Website the year 1982 has been given as the year the symphony was completed.


Sources for this post     


My personal answer to Symphony No. 2, in fact my “Il Canto della Terra” in a self made video creation…                                                                                                Music: Mikis Theodorakis                                                                                                               Title: Ximeroni                                                                                                                                 Artist: Vicky Leandros


Post updated: 2 November 2015



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