Manos Hadjidakis (23/10/1925 - 15/06/1994)
He was born in Xanthi in 1925. His education in music began when he was four years old, learning to play the piano, as well as the violin and the accordion. After his parents divorced, he moved with his mother to Athens in 1932. Six years later, his father died at an airplane crash, and in combination with the start of World War II, Hadjidakis’ family suffered financially; so, he started working as a docker, ice seller, photographer and nurse assistant. Meanwhile, he also continued his musical studies, attending theory lessons, while he also enrolled at the Philosophy School of University of Athens; he never completed his studies there. During the German Occupation, he participated in the National Resistance movement, and he met Mikis Theodorakis, with whom they formed a close friendship.
In 1944, Hadjidakis made his first appearance as a composer at the Art Theatre of Karolos Koun; he worked at the Theatre for fifteen years. During this time, he also started studying rebetiko, and delivered a speech on its value in 1949, at the Art Theatre. In 1950, he became a founding member and art director of the Greek Ballet Organization, while at the same time, tragedienne Marika Kotopouli assigned to him the music composition for the Ancient Greek tragedies she staged. Among the tragedies and comedies Hadjidakis composed music for are Mideia, Cyclops, Vacchae, Lysistrata, The Birds, etc.
1957 marked the start of a very proliferous period. He composed music for theatre and cinema, and his works became increasingly famous. In 1961, he received an Academy Award for the song “The Children of Piraeus” that he composed for the movie “Never on Sunday”. As a result, he became known worldwide. In 1966, he went to the United States, along with Jules Dassin and Melina Merkouri, to stage the theatrical adaptation of “Never on Sunday” on Broadway, under the title “Ilya Darling”. There, he was introduced to American pop and rock music, resulting in the recordings of the song collection “Reflections” and the song “Gioconda’s Smile” in its most famous orchestral form.
He returned to Athens in 1972 and became the General Director of the Opera and Director of the National Orchestra. During this last period of his life, he organized multiple events to highlight various aspects in music, from traditional songs to modern tendencies. In 1989, he founded the Orchestra of Colours in order to introduce classical and modern composers in a unique way. Hadjidakis was the director of the orchestra and participated in a total of twenty concerts and twelve recitals. He died in 15 June 1994, due to acute pulmonary edema and was buried in Paiania, Athens.