Olympic Games and “Canto Olympico”, Mikis Theodorakis

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The Olympic Games in London, United Kingdom, 2012, are the reason for bringing in  “old(er)” performances of opening ceremonies, on several websites. My own interest for the Olympic Games has always been connected with my own love for sports, and later also for the reason that my eldest son was in the team of chief cooks in the “Holland House” of the Winter Games in Turin, Italy, in 2006, where he had the honour to create a wonderful meal for even H.R.H. Prince Willem Alexander!

For here and now, for this blog, and my love for Mikis Theodorakis’s music, my interest for the Olympic Games got a boost when I read Brian Lauritzen’s blogpost “In Defense of John Williams” and finding Mikis Theodorakis’ name among all other composers of Olympic Games hymns and songs. He mentions “Canto Olympico”:

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Mikis Theodorakis:

The commission to compose one of the works dedicated to the Olympic Games in Barcelona (1992) came from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). From the initially large scenario suggested by the President of the IOC, Mr. Samaranch, I came up with the idea to write a work about the history of the Olympic Games.

Whilst I composed, I allowed myself to be inspired by the consideration that content and form of a musical work addressing millions of sports aficionados should be simple, that it should resemble a song as much as possible.

For this reason I chose the suite as form and the song as “content”; the orchestral arrangement is correspondingly simple.

In 1987 I had already successfully tried something similar with the ZORBAS ballet.

The application of previously written melodic motifs – that is, my songs – in both this and the other work, should not be Interpreted as a retreat, but rather as a document of my conviction that my songs have at least a timeless value apart from their success they had upon their initial publication.

And such is the case with the CANTO OLYMPICO, as I have finally entitled this work, a symphonic-orchestral suite in seven movements.

There are three soloists: a tenor, a baritone and a pianist. And the chorus plays a prominent role similar to that in CANTO GENERAL; and when I say chorus, this stands for the meaning of the poetic text.

Philosophically, but also formally, the CANTO OLYMPICO aims at developing not only the Olympic idea but also the dimension of timelessness that stems from the soul of the Greek people, its creators. As In my last two works, the opera MEDEA and the ZORBAS ballet, the CANTO OLYMPICO has a hellenocentric core which conforms with my character as well as my upbringing.

To close, I would like to thank my colleagues who have helped me in the creation of this work: Dimitra Manda, Lukas Karytinos, Andonis Karageorgiou, Frangiskos Voutsinos, Elena Mouzala, Vangelis Hatzisimos and the Symphony Orchestra and Choir of the Greek Public Broadcasting Company and their director Vassilis Riziotis.

Source: Official Website
© Mikis Theodorakis, 1992, published on 03.08.2004         

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The Oratorio: CANTO OLYMPICO

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Composed: 1990-1991 in Athens
1. Songs of Praise
a. Ode to Zeus
b. Ode to Apollo
c. Ode to the First Olympic Victor
2. The Olympic Games
a. Preparation
b. The Games begin
3. Victory
4. War
5. The Downfall of the Games, The Middle Ages and the Olympic Idea
6. Rebirth of the Olympic Games
a. The Beginning of a new Epoch
b. Rocks, Unite
7. Hymn to the Earth

Composer: Mikis Theodorakis                                                                                                        Text writers: Dimitra Manda (Part 1 and 5) ; Mikis Theodorakis (Part 2, 3, 4 and 6b) ;  Mikis Theodorakis and Dimitra Manda (Part 6a and 7)

Orchestra/ensemble: The Greek Radio  Symphonic Orchestra

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                                                                                 Conductor: Loukas Karytinos                                                                                                      Choir: The  Greek Radio Chorus                                                                                              Conductor: Antonis Contogeorgiou                                                                                          Chorus master: Vassilis Kondogeorgiou                                                                                    Tenor: Vangelis Hadjissimos                                                                                                        Bass: Fangiskos Voutsinos                                                                                                                  Piano: Elena Mouzala                                                                                                            Commissioned by  the International Olympic Comitee (Barcelona 1992)

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Sources                                                                                                                                        Brian Lauritzen:  In defence of John Williams                                                                          Website Mikis Theodorakis: Canto Olympico                                                                            GubeMusic: Canto Olympico                                                                                                 YouTube: Athsakellarakis                                                                                                             YouTube: ZorbasTV                                                                                                               Wikipedia: Olympic Games 1992                                                                                       Wikipedia: Olympic Games                                                                                                      Holland (Heineken) House: Winter Olympic Games, Turin, Italy (2006)                        Website: Merijn van Berlo, Holland Heineken Huis, Turijn, 2006                                       Protoporia: Canto Olympico (Oratorio) (Δεμένο)                                                                       Eurovision sports: watch Olympics 2012 online                                                                           Agnès Baltsa: playlist with videos                                                                                          Website: Agnès Baltsa                                                                                                                          A Know-It-All‘s Guide To: Olympic Music                                                                                    Stixoi.info: Θα σημάνουν οι καμπάνες (sung by Agnès Baltsa in the first video)

Still searching for:                                                                                                                         1. Information about, and photo with, Dimitra Manda/Manta/Mantas, who created texts for the Canto Olympico.                                                                                                                       2. Lyrics/Poems of the Canto Olympico                                                                                           In case you have (found) the missing information, please send it to: antoinettejmjanssen@gmail.com  Thank you!

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About TheodorakisFriends

"TheodorakisFriends" is the name of my YouTube-channel and was set up in 2009, with the intention to collect all exisiting quality videos about and with Mikis Theodorakis' work as a composer, and also with and about his activities in politics and social life, from the far past till the present. In the meantime many thousands of videos are organized in more than 207 playlists. In 2010 the groups on YouTube disappeared from the channels, also my group Friends of Mikis, with many posts. To be able to continue with publishing mostly amazing information about and from Mikis Theodorakis, became the reason for creating the blog TheodorakisFriends: http://theodorakisfriends.com/
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