Few people actually know that Manos Hadjidakis refused the Oscar Award in 1960.
We all know that Hadjidakis got the Academy Award for the music of the movie “Never on Sunday”, but few people know that he refused to accept it.
The homonym song, Ta paidia tou Peiraia is one of the most popular songs of all times, but was not that appreciated by its creator Hadjidakis – although it has been performed in 150 different versions all over the world.
The famous Greek composer who managed to combine laika with urban music, won the Oscar for the Best Original Song with “Ta paidia tou Peiraia” performed by Melina Mercouri.
It was the first foreign song to win an Oscar in this category. The song was included in the 10 most popular songs of the 20th century internationally, so Hadjidakis received a second award for this song in 1987 in Hamburg.
However, Hadjidakis never felt proud for the Oscar, since he thought that this award was actually adding some sort of “unwanted popularity” to him; he also thought that this movie was presenting a more “touristy” image of Greece and himself abroad.
He wrote about it: “Even the official state celebrated the Oscar that I won unwittingly, and without planning it. I fought for years to remove this “title of honor” from my back”.
Maybe Hadjidakis thought that the music style of the song was not representing him, and created an inferior image of him and the culture of his country. However, that period in Hadjidakis’ career was characterized by a series of “light” songs and music for the movies, that was much appreciated by his admirers and was inextricably connected to the Greek music and Greek cinema. Indeed, both the movie and its OST are credited with stimulating tourism trade towards Greece.
Still today, Ta paidia tou Peiraia are – along with Zorba the Greek – the most known and recognizable Greek songs.
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You may be interested in a new book about Athens which was inspired by the music of Hadjidakis. It has received some enthusiastic reviews.
The magical music of Mános Hadjidákis reaches far beyond the shores of Greece.
In the 1970s it journeyed all the way to the most distant land on the planet, New Zealand.
There, in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, one young man was changed forever by Mános’s exquisite melodies and harmonies.
45 years later he travelled to Athens to find the secret of the master’s music.
‘Athens – The Truth’ is both an account of a life-long search for Mános and a revelation of the wonders and the realities, musical and otherwise, of the composer’s world: the modern city of Athens.