Mikis Theodorakis talks about Vasilis Tsitsanis in this video from a historic moment in 1983.
In August 1983, a tribute to Vasilis Tsitsanis was organized in Athens. In this video we watch a part of Theodorakis’ speech about Tsitsanis. It is a very touching speech and a very significant one.
Theodorakis starts by saying how important this tribute is, because it honors a man while still alive. The interesting part is that Tsitsanis died just a few months later, in January 1984, therefore, he had already the chance and joy to be honored by the Greek audience, and by one of the biggest Greek composers when alive.
Mikis Theodorakis says:
“We know that Seferis and Elytis had to come to discover Theophilos. But in the case of Vamvakaris, Papaioannou, Mitsakis, Kaldaras, Chiotis, Bithikotsis, and especially Vasilis Tsitsanis, our people did not need intermediaries to discover them, simply because Greeks have lived through them intensively each time.
How did this miracle happen, and a child from Trikala, who emigrated to Thessaloniki as a teenager, managed to transform into his soul and mind the entire essence of our music tradition and to give them back to us as new, simple and perfect musical forms?
How many thousands of Greek songs of every kind were written after Synnefiasmeni Kyriaki? Who remembers them? Between two rocks and under two tall trees, will also sprout grass and other plants. Everything is good and holy in nature. The problem of course starts only when these small plants begin to make statements and people take them for trees … Vasilis, you know what I mean…
However us, an entire generation of musicians and poets are here honoring you as our teacher. We follow with our own forces, the way that you and your companions had first formulated, and today we invited you to this concert with respect in our heart for what you have given us.”
When the speech ends, Mikis Theodorakis sings with Tsitsanis one of the censored songs during the civil war, called “Kapoia mana anastenazei” (A mother is sighing). Tsitsanis is, of course, playing the bouzouki, which made his so famous and beloved in Greek music.
The song Kapoia mana anastenazei refers to the exile. It is one of the songs that was not allowed to be sung during the civil war (1946-1949) in Greece, because its last verse refers to an island used at that time as a place of exile for those against the regime.