Mikis Theodorakis and the poet Tasos Livaditis

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Tasos Livaditis                                                                                                                          

Tasos Livaditis (Athens, 1922-1988) was a Greek poet.  Livaditis studied law at Athens University, but soon his gift for creating poetry was discovered. He had a strong political commitment in the political left movement, and because of that he was condemned, led to exile and has been kept in prison from 1947 till 1951, among others on the island of torture Makronisos, together with Yannis Ritsos, Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Katrakis.

TasosLivaditis

In 1946 the journal Elefthera Grammata published a first article . In 1952 his first volume of poems appeared battle on the edge of the night. Between 1954 and 1980 he worked as a literary critic for the newspaper Avgi. Some of his books were banned in the 1950s because of their seditious content.

Tasos Livaditis got a number of national and international awards for his poetry and was considered one of the outstanding Greek poets of the last century.

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Tasos Lividatis and Makronisos                                                                                            

Makronisos (Greek: Μακρόνησος, lit. Long Island) is an island in the Aegean sea, in Greece and is located close to the coast of Attica, facing the port of Lavrio. It has an elongated shape, 13 km (8 mi) north to south, around 500 m (1,640 ft) east to west, and its terrain is arid and rocky. In ancient times the island was called Helena.

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Makronisos_map

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It is part of the prefecture of the Cyclades but it is not part of that island chain. Administratively, it is part of the municipality of Kea.

The island is uninhabited.

However, from the time of the Greek Civil War up until the restoration of democracy following the collapse of the Regime of the Colonels, it was used as a place of imprisonment for Greek communists, hosting hundreds of prisoners. Because of its history, it is considered as a monument of the civil war era; therefore the island itself and the original structures on it are protected from alterations. Photo: Makronisos in the time that Tasos Lividatis and Mikis Theodorakis were imprisoned there. You can find more impressive photos on a special Greek website. Here.

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Makronisos2

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Tasos Livaditis, Mikis Theodorakis and the song cycle Ta Lyrika

How and when the contact between both Tasos Livaditis and Mikis Theodorakis started cannot be found. Maybe it was on Makronisos, the island of torture, where both were sent to.

TaLyrika

Ta Lyrika is the title of a CD with 16 song titles, all in English and therefore so difficult to find the original titles written by Tasos Livaditis somewhere on a website. I have translated the titles into Greek with google translate, but google is a bad translator. Sometimes it worked, mostly not. Finally I found them on the Dutch website, hosted by Ineke vand er Maat. I spoke often about her. Her website is an amazing source with a high quality collection of information. You can find the link in “sources and additional information”.

I collected the videos in a playlist. The link can be found in “Sources and additional information”. All songs are really of a special atmosphere. Several have been sung by Mikis himself in special performances. Like here:

Σε δρόμους μακρινούς
την τύχη πουλάνε,
μονάχοι και πάνε.
Η μέρα τους πονά
μα η νύχτα τους θυμάται,
ποιοι νά `ναι, νά ναι
ποιοι νά `ναι…

Σε πόλεις σκοτεινές
σαν ίσκιοι διαβαίνουν
και φεύγουν και μένουν.
Στα χέρια τους τ’ αχνά
ο θάνατος κοιμάται
ποιοι νά `ναι, νά `ναι
ποιοι νά `ναι…

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The film Συνοικία το όνειρο / The borough’s dream                                                      

Tasos Livaditis is the scriptwriter of  “Synoikia to Oneiro” / “The District’s Dream”.

This movie had its premiere in 1961. It was considered to be one of the first neorealistic movies in Greece. The movie faced many problems during both shooting and when he started running. Initially it had been banned, but a censored version became available in urban centers. Mikis Theodorakis composed the music for this film.

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synoikiatooneiro

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A review, found on the webpage of IMDb:

Synoikia to Oneiro proves that Alexandrakis was both a gifted actor and an innovative director. His movie is both gritty and moving. Shot on location in what was then Athen’s poorest area, he overwhelms the viewer with the abject poverty of post-war Greece. All performances are noteworthy, especially that of Manos Katrakis. Mikis Theodorakis fans will love this movie for its music. Synoikia to Oneiro has few of the technical problems common among Greek movies of the time. I can’t help feeling it a shame that Alexandrakis hadn’t directed more films. Let’s not forget that movies in Greece at the time were made on shoe-string budgets. This film is under-rated. In my opinion, it’s on par with Stella, Ta Kokkina Fanaria and other great Greek films made in the mid-fifties to mid-sixties.

The full film:

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Tasos Livaditis and Mikis Theodorakis’  Liturgia no. 2

The composition:

LITURGIE N°2, AST 254
Composed: 3.6.-20.6.1982

  1. Vespers
  2. Cherub’s Chant to the Brothers and Sisters of the Rain
  3. The Prayer of the Wind
  4. Psalm for the Holy State
  5. Dirge of the Rain
  6. The Holy Che
  7. Psalm for the Holy Musician
  8. Anne Frank – Ibrahim – Emiliano
  9. The Day of the Apocalypse
  10. The Holy Mother
  11. Kalamata Hallelujah for the Partisan Martyrs
  12. To a Dead Son
  13. Gloria
  14. Matins – Psalm to Love

 

  • Poems: 01.-07. / 09.-11.: Tasos Livaditis
  • Poems: 08./12.-14.: Mikis Theodorakis

 

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Sources and additional information  

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”ΤΗΝ ΠΟΡΤΑ ΑΝΟΙΓΩ ΤΟ ΒΡΑΔΥ”
Στίχοι: Τάσος Λειβαδίτης
Μουσική: Μίκης Θεοδωράκης
Πρώτη εκτέλεση: Μίκης Θεοδωράκης
Άλλες ερμηνείες: Άλκηστις Πρωτοψάλτη || Διονύσης Τσακνής || Έλενα Μπάση

Την πόρτα ανοίγω το βράδυ,
τη λάμπα κρατώ ψηλά,
να δούνε της γης οι θλιμμένοι,
να ρθούνε, να βρουν συντροφιά.

Να βρούνε στρωμένο τραπέζι,
σταμνί για να πιει ο καημός
κι ανάμεσά μας θα στέκει
ο πόνος, του κόσμου αδερφός.

Να βρούνε γωνιά ν ακουμπήσουν,
σκαμνί για να κάτσει ο τυφλός
κι εκεί καθώς θα μιλάμε
θα ρθει συντροφιά κι ο Χριστός.

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”OPEN THE DOOR IN THE EVENING”

I set the door open in the evening
I hold the lamp up high
so that all those who grieve in the world can see
can come and find company

find the table laid
a jug of water for grief to drink
and among us there will be standing
like our brother, the pain of the world

find a corner to lean into
a stool for the blind man to sit
and there, while we are talking
into our company, Christ too will come.

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Έζησα τα πάθη σα μια φωτιά, τάδα ύστερα να μαραίνονται
και να σβήνουν,
και μ’ όλο που ξέφευγα απόνα κίνδυνο, έκλαψα
γι’ αυτό το τέλος που υπάρχει σε όλα. Δόθηκα στα πιο μεγάλα
ιδανικά, μετά τ’ απαρνήθηκα,
και τους ξαναδόθηκα ακόμα πιο ασυγκράτητα. Ένοιωσα
ντροπή μπροστά στους καλοντυμένους,
και θανάσιμη ενοχή για όλους τους ταπεινωμένους και τους
φτωχούς,
είδα τη νεότητα να φεύγει, να σαπίζουν τα δόντια,
θέλησα να σκοτωθώ, από δειλία ή ματαιοδοξία,
συχώρεσα εκείνους που με σύντριψαν, έγλυψα εκεί που
έφτυσα,
έζησα την απάνθρωπη στιγμή, όταν ανακαλύπτεις, πλέον
αργά, ότι είσαι ένας άλλος
από κείνον που ονειρευόσουνα, ντρόπιασα τ’ όνομά μου
για να μη μείνει ούτε κηλίδα εγωισμού απάνω μου ―
κι ήταν ο πιο φριχτός εγωισμός. Tις νύχτες έκλαψα,
συνθηκολόγησα τις μέρες, αδιάκοπη πάλη μ’ αυτόν τον
δαίμονα μέσα μου
που τα ήθελε όλα, τούδωσα τις πιο γενναίες μου πράξεις,
τα πιο καθάρια μου όνειρα
και πείναγε, τούδωσα αμαρτίες βαρειές, τον πότισα αλκοόλ,
χρέη, εξευτελισμούς,
και πείναγε. Bούλιαξα σε μικροζητήματα
φιλονίκησα για μιας σπιθαμής θέση, κατηγόρησα,
έκανα το χρέος μου από υπολογισμό, και την άλλη στιγμή,
χωρίς κανείς να μου το ζητήσει
έκοψα μικρά-μικρά κομάτια τον εαυτό μου και τον μοίρασα
στα σκυλιά.

Tώρα, κάθομαι μες στη νύχτα και σκέφτομαι, πως ίσως πια
μπορώ να γράψω
ένα στίχο, αληθινό.

 

Updated: 19 November 2015

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About "The Music of Mikis Theodorakis"

The blog "The Music of Mikis Theodorakis" started in 2010. The not-for-profit activities of the initiator were and are to collect, create and publish information about the MUSIC of the Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis via YouTube, Google+, Twitter, and this blog. Sources for this information are utterly strictly related with Mikis Theodorakis' Music only. The icon is a bouzouki. It is Greece's national symbol for freedom. During the Regime of the Colonels (Military Junta, 1967-1974) the bouzouki was forbidden. Mikis Theodorakis used this authentic Greek instrument in almost all his compositions, and Greeks were listening to Theodorakis's music in the underground scene, during the Military Junta time.
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