Arja Saijonmaa, part three

There are in total three posts about Arja Saijonmaa/Mikis Theodorakis and these are all three interrelated.

  1. Arja Saijonmaa’s influencer: Mikis Theodorakis
  2. Theodorakis’ Songs Singers
  3. Arja Saijonmaa, part three


In a serial of two former posts the puzzle Arja Saijonmaa is explained, solved and now there is a new puzzle again. So here is part three of the serial. Reason for this third post is an article published on December 1, 2016, written in the Norwegian language, in VisitDRAMMEN, a Norwegian tourist organisation and website, related with the world famous VisitNorway tourist organisation and website, about travel and events in Norway. I read this article yesterday, February 11, 2018 and started translating it with google.

In this article, with the title: “Arja Saijonmaa: Mitt hjertes puls” (the pulse of my heart), some facts of Arja Saijonmaa’s life with Mikis Theodorakis are simply and easy unveiled, without that Arja Saijonmaa is realising, I am sure, what the impact is of this on all who know Mikis Theodorakis, especially his family, his wife Myrto. In part two of this serial I wrote about Arja’s lack of integrity. What she told in this article is proving it. Again.

What her problems with her life and Mikis Theodorakis might have been, how difficult it was, and is, because of the choices she made, is not something for an audience on internet, it belongs in the room of a therapist. Her book, written in Greek, and published in 2013, about her life with Mikis Theodorakis, contains maybe also very intimate information, I do not know, but I would not be surprised anymore. Because of Arja’s lack of integrity.

In this post the text is published, in an English translation. If I do not do it, somebody else will do it, so I do it. Once the truth will be there, anyway. Since she herself has talked about private issues, in public, I do what I feel as a need to make the puzzle that Arja Saijonmaa has created herself, her entire life, complete. She is a hailed performer of Theodorakis’ music, has earned an income with it, has become famous because of his name. In a way, to serve her own egoistic wish to unveil all of it because she feels the need to do so, she has, regardlesly, turned on the light and invited the world in a place in time where the world should not be invited, because that place is private: it is not only about herself, it is also Mikis Theodorakis.

The translation of the article, the part about Mikis Theodorakis, follows here. The original Norwegian text can be found here.


Øyvind Risvik: “I experienced a very special meeting in 1987. Between Arja Saijonmaa, who is 72, today, December 1, and Andre Bjerke’s widow, Gerd. One year after the death of the great Norwegian poet, Arja released the album “The Woman”, with lyrics by Andre Bjerke and music by Benny Borg. And this she said to me at that time: “…. you must always be honest with yourself, always be willing to listen to the pulse of the heart, that no one should be faithful to any human being, ideal, command or dream.”

And then she sang, simple, beautiful and silent Andre Bjerke’s poem “Du skal være tro” “Be truthful”, and for the sake of sake, here you will find the beautiful beginning of the poem:

Du skal være tro.
Men ikke mot mennesker
som i gold grådighet
henger ved dine hender.

Ikke mot noe ideal
som svulmer i store bokstaver
uten å røre ved ditt hjerte.

In the 1970s, Arja Saijonmaa was a very radical woman. She studied music and was enthusiastically concerned with solidarity and political theatre. “It was a time of ideology, political music and freedom struggle,” she says.
– In 1970 I met the man who changed my life, on a stage in the Old Student House in the center of Helsinki. The man was the Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis. In meeting with this person’s personality and my own strong feelings for him, I had to step into the unknown.

In her beautiful memorial book “En ung naken kvinne”, a young naked woman, Arja Saijonmaa tells about the year she met the man who was going to change her artistic career and philosophy of life. It has become a humorous and personal depiction of finding a standpoint in the world and daring to live out the dream.

Even before she met him, Arja Saijonmaa had bended herself over the song texts of Theodorakis, the man behind the music of the famous Zorba movie.

Mikis Theodorakis’ music was banned by the Greek Junta, and the composer lived on the run from dictatorship and prison in his homeland.

“His music made the dictators shaking,” she said.

“As usual, I was wearing a black trouser and a black polo-neck sweater,” says Arja Saijonmaa about their first meeting. “Over it I was wearing a long open cardigan that  I had sewn from a patterned orange yellow, thick furniture fabric.”

“Suddenly he jumped on the stage, interrupted my performance, took the microphone in his hand and said: Arja will join me on a world tour. There came a sigh from the audience, and then they began to applaud. The only one who did not understand anything was certainly me.”



When he was so near, I saw his eyes under the wild black hair that surrounded the long skinny face. His eyes looked disturbed. It was an animal’s face, with wolf’s eyes.

“He had just fled from Greece, from dictatorship and prison,” she continues. – He looked like a hunted animal.

There was a deep suffering in his eyes. He was ill. He had tuberculosis and his legs were weakened. He jumped on the stage anyway and had an impressive intensity. The whole situation came out of nowhere. It was like being in heaven.

A few years later, the invitation became a reality, they went on tour. Then Arja Saijonmaa was in love with the man too, and not just his music. When she decided to write a book about her relationship with Mikis Theodorakis, she did a thorough job. It took five years. Her relationship with the legendary freedom fighter and composer has been complicated.

“I would not have sit here if I would not have met him,” she says. – What I had done instead, nobody knows, maybe something about movie or piano, or nothing? I was not only in love with him, he was also my idol.”

“He was so strong and so dazzling,” she continues. – “Of course I fell in love. As an artist, nobody had come closer to me than I, myself, but further I did not want to show what I felt. It felt bad many times, because artistic we were so close to each other. Just a couple of years ago, I told him what I felt. He had become an old man, but it was important for me to let him know. It had been over for me for a long time already.

Arja Saijonmaa’s book tells a lot about how she deals with being an artist, that she loves music. But the human factor is as intense.

Once upon a time, Mikis Theodoraki made a physical approach to Arja. It happened in a hotel room in Paris in 1972. Arja Saijonmaa had fallen in the slalom bin and her leg was in the plaster. It was the first time the two were together alone:

He overwhelmed me, she writes in her book A young naked woman. – A two meter high giant with coal-black, wild curled hair. I smelled him. He said something in Greek.

Suddenly he bent forward and tried to kiss me, first on the cheek, and then he watched my lips. He started pushing me towards the bed. My leg with plaster bent like a thick birch tree, I fell down on the bed like a sack. Got turned up in the standing position. My heart was pounding. I was overpowered. Shy. A bit of both. How should I respond? And where should this end? It was not this I had come to Paris for.

The heart said yes, but my ratio said no. This was at the very beginning of our cooperation, and I was scared. We had to get out of the bed.

I wish I could have handled the situation in a more mature way, but I was young and shy. I have often wondered how things would have been if I had would have listened to my heart. But I’ll never get that answer!

Arja Saijonmaa and Mikis Theodorakis toured the world both in the 1970s and several years later. Over the years, Arja has released several albums with Theodorakis’ music, both with and without the master by her side.

“My life has been strongly influenced by Mikis Theodorakis,” she says. “He became like a fate to me. But we had no relationship, she says. Our love was based on the music. But at the same time I loved him. All was complicated.
Arja Saijonmaa met Mikis Theodorakis again when he was 84 and lived in Athens. In the book, Arja talks about his conversation with him:

“Do you know that on our world tour, but really ever since we met each other, I’ve been incredibly in love with you? Really serious. I noticed that you tried to come near to me, but I was not certain, and it grew into a trauma that has hurt and hurt. Now I just have to heal it, take it out, say it. So that you know. I’ve always had strong feelings for you, in different mixes, also negative, but you’ve been my – what should I say – love. Or a dream of love. I have loved you. And will love you forever.”

“Mikis still said nothing. He smoked his cigar. I was dying, but now it was said. The heart was pounding. I felt as if I was thirteen year old. But at the same time incredibly relieved. A real catharsis!”

“And I did not notice anything,” he said after a long while.

“What an idiot I am. What an idiot I was,” he added and smiled. And continued smoking his Cuban cigar.

Of course he had noticed it. I understood that. I smiled also. We both smiled. I did it with humour again, which saved us so many times. It was so liberating …”



Post Scriptum 1

In my opinion it is embarrassing to share with the world what is too intimate, too private. Arja Saijonmaa exposed Mikis Theodorakis in an utterly egoistic way, it is harming his reputation, his relation with his own wife and children. I am shocked. She writes that she loved him her whole life, and still. You, Arja Saijonmaa, do not love him at all. Otherwise you would have kept what has happened in Paris in 1972 out of the publicity.

You, Arja Saijonmaa, say it has helped you to talk about it with him. That was enough, isn’t it? But obviously it was not enough. You wrote books about him (did you ever inform him about your texts before they were published in books?), spoke about him in interviews and articles. What is next? Do not make a circus out of something precious, do not embarrass the person you say you love so much. You should have kept it for yourself, but it is too late, Arja, too late for that.

In the article in VisitDrammen you say: “…. you must always be honest with yourself, always be willing to listen to the pulse of the heart, that no one should be faithful to any human being, ideal, command or dream.”

One can be honest with oneself, and being faithful at the same time, Arja. Being honest with oneself can be filled in by the egoist in oneself, or by the ethical one. That made all the difference, because you listened to the ethical one in 1970, to the egoist in your heart when you started talking about it. You do not have sense for integrity.

Something else. It could be that the whole story has been made up, by both of you, to cover the reality, the gossip stories that were maybe already there. In that case this what has happened in Paris (as you write, Arja Saijonmaa), is nothing, compared with what might have happened, maybe, in reality. Who knows. I do not trust you anymore, especially not when I read the words again: “…no one should be faithful to any human being, ideal, command or dream.”

Or to truth itself.

A new puzzle is there. Only truth knows what really happened.

When rethinking all I wrote, your question, Arja Saijonmaa, came back in my mind: “…how things would have been if I had would have listened to my heart?”

First: I am waking up from the obviously wrong idea that Theodorakis would never do what he did in Paris. Not in that way. Not overwhelming, not overpowering, not suddenly going in a kind of an attack, out of the blue, assuming that the other wants it because he wants it.

I guess this is not the first time “this” happened in Theodorakis’s life, and not the last time either. I am rather certain that there are more women who have experienced this. This means Arja, that your question is easy to be answered: you would have become his mistress, for a while. Living mostly alone, as you did in your life anyway, but with one illusion lesser. Your choice not to listen to your heart, as you explained it, was in fact not listening to your body, and within the context of everything, you made the best choice for everybody, also for yourself.

Do not doubt about that. Do not wonder what might have become out of your life if you would not have rejected his longings, and your physical longings. The pain would have been there also, finally. Maybe you would have become even more traumatised than you have been. You would not have been lesser alone, because he was not a man to be monogamous, and to respect his wife, his love, otherwise he would not have brought you in this situation, then, in Paris, while being married. I wonder what has happened between him and Melina Mercouri. I can almost read the full story of her now, see similarities. It is as dramatic and traumatic as your story, Arja Saijonmaa. And so many others. It will take some time before I get used to what you, Arja Saijonmaa, shared with the world. Maybe it helps other, let me say it as it is, victims of his sexual needs. When seeing it like that it makes it totally okay that you opened the secrets of the past.

Also: He is Greek. He is a Greek artist, musician, mostly away, far away from home. I do not know from approved research how normal it is for Greek musicians to have a mistress, or mistresses while they are on a concert tour. One can only imagine. Also: for Greeks family, church and country are a holy trinity. Therefore: I do not believe that you would  have become his wife, or partner, he would not have divorced Myrto, and therefore you would have become his mistress.

So:the best scenario, the less hurting scenario, the less suffering occurred because you made the right choice. But you should not have talked about it. It was not needed. Unless you wanted to cover another scenario, as I wrote. This is how I see it.

What does Myrto think about this, I wonder.


Post Scriptum 2

Today it is 13 February 2018. Obviously all has a huge impact on me, because the idea I am going to write down now, was there when I woke up…..

My thoughts went to your family, Arja, to your father. Maybe he has foreseen more than you were able to understand and willing to accept as right when you were young. Maybe starting a study, now, could create an excellent u-turn in your life, would offer you the way to let go Theodorakis. There is so much more, and a study keeps the mind fresh and young. You could also start a blog. Write stories there. About concerts. About hiking: you like to hike. Make photos when you hike, with all the beauty of the landscapes around you, and share these in Instagram, for instance.

Wishing you all the best, and a reunion with your family.

Video: nature of Finland, your country, and its most famous composer Sibelius’ “Finlandia”.





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.
This entry was posted in Books, Μίκης Θεοδωράκης, Mikis Theodorakis and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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