Gifted, melancholic, sensitive, wonderful… Manos Hadjidakis has marked Greek Music and Discography with his work, leaving a huge legacy behind him. He was one of the most important Greek Composers, the most romantic and soul – touching according to many people who still fall in love and daydream with his music.
Note. In the featured video Manos Hadjidakis sings “Kyr Antonis” together with Melina Mercouri
A short biography of Manos Hadjidakis
Manos Hadjidakis was born in October 23rd 1925 in Xanthi, in northern Greece but moved with his parents to Athens. According to him, he inherited from his mother the riddles that motivated him to become what he was. “If it hadn’t been for her riddles I wouldn’t be a poet”, he said later. His music education begins at the age of four and he starts playing piano, practicing with the Armenian Piano Player Altounian. He also learns to play the violin and the accordion.
Hadjidakis studies philosophy at the University of Athens and he is fascinated and nurtured by intellectuals, artists and great spirits of his times: poets Elytis and Seferis, Gatsos, the artist Sikelianos and Tsarouchis, who later became his good friends and collaborators.
Hadjidakis decides to become an actor and he is accepted at the Theatre of Art by Karolos Koun, but he abandons this idea to dedicate himself in music composing and lyric writing. He becomes a collaborator of the National Theatre and Theatre of Art and he forms an amazing group with Karolos Koun and Giannis Tsarouchis, writing music for both the classical and modern repertoire: Medea, Ornithes, Othello, The Streetcar named desire and many many more.
In 1948 he reinstates Rebetika to the Greek Music stage and he adds to the revival of Folk Songs with certain works, such as “Six folk paints”, “Lilacs from the dead land” and he collaborates with other important Greek Composers of the time, such as Vasilis Tsitsanis.
Hadjidakis’ music for films
Starting in 1946, Hadjidakis begins writing scores from Greek and International Films, such as Stella by Mihalis Kakogiannis, In the Cool of the Day, America America by Elia Kazan, Blue in 1967, the documentaries A La Recherche de l’ Atlantide, by Jacques Cousteau.
In 1960, Manos hadjidakis becomes the first Greek Composer to receive an Oscar award by the Academy, for the song “Never On Sunday”, written for the homonym movie of Jules Dassin. The song is sung by his good friend Melina Mercouri and automatically Greek Music becomes known throughout the world. The same song is being included in the best 20 songs of the 20th century and in 1987 Hadjidakis receives the prize in Hamburg. He writes again music for Dassin in 1963, for the movie TopKapi.
His international fame is backed by numerous artists and singers who start performing his songs: ale Andersen, Brenda Lee, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Harry Belafonte, S. Filips, Amalia Rodrigues, Michael Kamen and Nana Mouskouri are just a few of them.
In 1989 Manos Hadjidakis founded the Orchestra of Colors, because he wanted to present “original work not usually undertaken by conventional symphonic orchestras”. He has always been a pioneer, an open mind, an irreconcilable artist, enemy of solidified opinions and statuses, a lover of life and youth, an intellectual whose talent was too big to be confined in his country.
Manos Hadjidakis died in June 15th 1994, leaving an entire country mourning and a huge void in Greek Music.
A few notable moments of Manos Hadjidakis’ Discography:
- Adoulotoi Sklavoi – Unsubdued Slaves – US title (1946)
- Kokkinos Vrahos (1949)
- Dyo Kosmi – ‘The Two Worlds (1949)
- Nekri Politeia – Dead City – US title (1951)
- O Grousouzis – The Grouch – US title (1952)
- Agni Tou Limaniou – Lily of the Harbour – US title (1952)
- Never on Sunday (1960)
- Topkapi (1964)
- Gioconda’s Smile (1965)
- Illya Darling (1967) Broadway musical
- Reflections (1969) –
- Sweet Movie (1974)
- Magnus Eroticus
- Dreams’ Street (Odos Oneiron)