Manos Hadjidakis

Biography

Born: October 23, 1925; Xanthi, Greece   Died: June 15, 1994  
Manos Hadjidakis (as his name is usually spelled in English) is perhaps modern Greece's greatest composer and songwriter, rivaled only by Mikis Theodorakis for the title. Hadjidakis helped usher in a new era of Greek music in the post-WWII era, elevating the earthiest strains of Greek folk and popular song into respected art forms. In the process, he found tremendous popular success in his home country, chiefly through his work as a pop Read more songwriter, and became familiar to international audiences through his movie soundtracks, winning an Oscar in 1960. He also composed contemporary classical pieces for ensembles small and large, often inspired by Greek poetry, and wrote for theater and ballet. Many of his songs, larger compositions, and recordings are considered classics in Greece, and cornerstones of the country's modern popular music. He remained a highly respected intellectual and cultural figure in Greece up until his death in 1994.

Hadjidakis was born in the northern town of Xanthi, Greece, on October 23, 1925. He started piano lessons at age four, and later learned the violin and accordion as well. In 1932, his parents divorced, and he moved with his mother to Athens. His father died in a plane crash in 1938, leaving the family in a dire financial state only worsened by the German occupation in World War II. Hadjidakis worked a succession of odd jobs to support his family, but also managed to study advanced music theory and composition as a teenager, also enrolling at the University of Athens to study philosophy (circumstances prevented him from finishing his degree). In 1943, he met the revered surrealist poet Nikos Gatsos, who would go on to become his favorite lyricist and work with him on the vast majority of his vocal compositions.

Hadjidakis first found an outlet for his compositional ability when he connected with the Art Theatre of Athens, and contributed music to its 1944 production of Alexis Solomos' The Last White Crow. He would work with the Art Theatre for the next 15 years, scoring a number of canonical plays by American and European writers, and also began to do the same for the Greek National Theatre starting in the early '50s. He wrote his first film score, for Free Slaves, in 1946, and the following year published his first contemporary piano piece, For a Small White Seashell. In 1948, Hadjidakis gave a high-profile academic lecture praising rembetika (sometimes spelled rebetico), the popular folk song form that was the province of the urban lower class and was regarded as borderline immoral by the conservative intelligentsia. The country's musical establishment was scandalized, but Hadjidakis had mapped out the path that would make him one of modern Greece's most cherished musical figures.

As a composer, Hadjidakis embraced rembetika on his 1951 piano work Six Folklore Paintings, which adapted rembetika melodies into a more artful presentation, and was also presented as a ballet (one of four he composed from 1949-1957). In the meantime, he had begun to compose music for theatrical productions of classic Greek tragedies, starting with Aeschylus' Orestes trilogy in 1950; normally, such a job was reserved for scholarly academics. He completed one of his major modern classical works in 1954's The C.N.S. Cycle, a song cycle for piano and baritone vocalist. The following year, he scored the motion picture Stella, which would prove to be one of his major successes in that area. Starring actress Melina Mercouri, whom Hadjidakis had known from her days in the theater, sang the song portions of the soundtrack, and would become one of Hadjidakis' most sympathetic interpreters.

In 1959, Hadjidakis began working with the young, up-and-coming Nana Mouskouri, for whom he would supply material on a regular basis; he also helped introduce the music of Mikis Theodorakis to the Greek public by arranging his song "Epitaphios" for a Mouskouri recording session. The following year, he reunited with Mercouri on the Jules Dassin-directed film Never on Sunday. It was a breakthrough international hit that won Hadjidakis an Oscar for his title song, which became a smash success in many parts of the world. In 1962, he staged the controversial musical Street of Dreams, now regarded as a landmark of Greek theater for its frank subject matter, and completed revisions on his score for Aristophanes' Birds, which subsequently ranked among his finest compositions.

Hadjidakis scored two more internationally prominent films in Elia Kazan's America, America (1963) and Jules Dassin's Topkapi (1964), and struck up a lengthy partnership with choreographer Maurice Béjart of 20th Century Ballets, who collaborated on the composer's forays into ballet from then on. Hadjidakis also founded the Athens Experimental Orchestra in 1964, which provided a vehicle for his own work and that of avant-garde Greek composers like Iannis Xenakis. However, even as Hadjidakis' interest in experimental music grew, so did his interest in song structure; his 1965 work Mythology found him ranging farther and farther afield in his traditional songwriting, fusing elements of symphonic, Turkish Byzantine, and ancient Greek music with modern rembetika.

In 1966, Hadjidakis traveled to New York for the Broadway premiere of Illya Darling, the stage version of Never on Sunday. He wound up staying there until 1972, in part because of the repressive military junta that took over the Greek government. While in America, he completed several more major compositions, including the piano piece Rhythmology and the song cycle Magnus Eroticus, which set 12 Greek poems modern and ancient to music; still fascinated by popular song, he also recorded the LP Reflections with the New York Rock and Roll Ensemble.

Hadjidakis returned to Greece in 1972, and when the military dictatorship fell, he took a number of high-ranking cultural positions: directing the State Orchestra (through 1981) and the classical-oriented channel of the national radio (1982), as well as becoming deputy director of the national opera (until 1977). He started several music festivals and competitions in the late '70s and early '80s, and in 1985 started his own record company (Sirius) and cultural magazine. In 1989, he founded and directed the Orchestra of Colours, a symphonic group devoted to unconventional works. By this time, he was suffering from heart problems, which would eventually claim his life on June 15, 1994. Read less
Browse 1-22 of 22 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Angela Gheorghiu: 3 Classic Albums
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002131302 Release Date: 09/16/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Jules Massenet,  Alfredo Catalani,  Vincenzo Bellini  ... 
    Performer:  Angela Gheorghiu,  Daniela Vendemiati,  Giuseppe Crott,  Malcolm Martineau
    Conductor:  John Mauceri,  Riccardo Chailly
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Turin Teatro Regio Chorus,  Turin Teatro Regio Orchestra,  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
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  • 2.
    The Golden Age Of Hollywood
    Label: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra   Catalog: 24 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Max Steiner,  Maurice Jarre,  Elmer Bernstein,  Ennio Morricone  ... 
    Performer:  Howard McGill,  Mike Allen,  Kyle Horch
    Conductor:  David Firman
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  • 3.
    Douce France / Anne Sofie von Otter
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5343 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Reynaldo Hahn,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Gabriel Fauré,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Carl Bagge,  Olle Linder,  Per Ekdahl,  Bengt Forsberg  ... 
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  • 4.
    Persona / Liona Boyd
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 42120 Release Date: 01/17/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Vangelis,  Liona Boyd,  Michael Kamen,  Manos Hadjidakis  ... 
    Performer:  Liona Boyd,  Michael Kamen,  Ray Cooper,  Yo-Yo Ma  ... 
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  • 5.
    Great Motion Picture Themes
    Label: Sepia Records   Catalog: 1189 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernest Gold,  Manos Hadjidakis,  Elmer Bernstein,  Dimitri Tiomkin  ... 
    Performer:  Al Caiola,  Shelly Manne,  Gerry Mulligan,  Marilyn Monroe  ... 
    Conductor:  Don Costa,  Nick Perito,  Alfred Newman,  Jerome Moross  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ferrante & Teicher,  The Modern Jazz Quartet
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  • 6.
    John Williams & The Boston Pops - A Celebration
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001649302 Release Date: 02/21/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  John T. Williams,  Vangelis,  Max Steiner,  Henry Mancini  ... 
    Conductor:  John T. Williams
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops
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  • 7.
    Zorba's Dance: Greek Music For Solo Piano
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1381 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Yiannis Konstantinidis,  Manolis Kalomiris,  Manos Hadjidakis,  Mikis Theodorakis  ... 
    Performer:  Dino Mastroyiannis
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  • 8.
    Digital Jukebox / John Williams, Boston Pops
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 422064 Release Date: 04/22/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alberto Pestalozza,  Alex North,  Max Steiner,  Henry Mancini  ... 
    Conductor:  John T. Williams
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 9.
    Label: Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog: 4411 Release Date: 03/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Evelyn Danzig,  Ariel Ramirez,  Bob Baron  ... 
    Performer:  Kenneth McKellar
    Conductor:  Peter Knight
    CD: $21.99
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  • 10.
    Souvenirs For Mandolin And Guitar / Alison Stephens, Craig Ogdon
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10563 Release Date: 09/29/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Vangelis Boudounis,  Manos Hadjidakis,  Luis E. Nieto S.,  Pedro Morales Pino  ... 
    Performer:  Alison Stephens,  Craig Ogden
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  • 11.
    Hadjidakis: For A Little White Seashell / Danae Kara
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8570957 Release Date: 12/16/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Manos Hadjidakis
    Performer:  Danae Kara
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  • 12.
    Tonight - The Memorial Screen Music 2 / Fiedler, Boston Pops
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 35044 Release Date: 01/07/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Auric,  Helen Stone,  Traditional,  Dimitri Tiomkin  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops
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  • 13.
    Impressions For Saxophone And Orchestra / Kerkezos, Et Al
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8557992 Release Date: 11/21/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mikis Theodorakis,  Nikos Skalkottas,  Theodore Antoniou,  Minas Alexiadis  ... 
    Performer:  Theodore Kerkezos
    Conductor:  Myron Michailidis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra
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  • 14.
    From Greece With Love / Agnes Baltsa, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000247802 Release Date: 07/13/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Manos Hadjidakis,  Mikis Theodorakis,  Stavros Xarhakos,  Vassilis Tsitsanis
    Performer:  Agnes Baltsa,  Kostas Papadopoulos
    Conductor:  Stavros Xarhakos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Athens Experimental Orchestra
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  • 15.
    Encore! / John Williams, Boston Pops Orchestra
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 000260602 Release Date: 06/15/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Andrew Lloyd Webber,  Leonard Bernstein,  Frederick Loewe,  Stephen Sondheim  ... 
    Performer:  John T. Williams,  Boston Pops
    Conductor:  John T. Williams
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops
    CD: $16.99
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  • 16.
    Greek Moods / The Hellas Orchestra
    Label: Tuxedo Music   Catalog: 5061 Release Date: 05/15/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Frank Colter,  Yannis Markopoulos,  Gert Wilden  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hellas Orchestra
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  • 17.
    Maria Zouves - With Flowers Crowned
    Label: Vai Audio   Catalog: 1167 Release Date: 11/30/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stavros Xarhakos,  Mikis Theodorakis,  George Lambelet,  Manos Hadjidakis  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Zouves,  Jessica Paul
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  • 18.
    My World / Angela Gheorghiu
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 458360 Release Date: 04/07/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Johann Paul A. Martini,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Nicholas Brodszky  ... 
    Performer:  Malcolm Martineau,  Angela Gheorghiu
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  • 19.
    The Mighty Wurlitzer / Robert Ducksch
    Label: Thorofon   Catalog: 2110 Release Date: 12/12/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Chaplin,  Manos Hadjidakis,  Victor Young
    Performer:  Robert Ducksch
    CD: $22.49
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  • 20.
    Music Around The Mediterranean Sea
    Label: Gall (Formerly Gallo)   Catalog: 605 Release Date: 08/18/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Manos Hadjidakis,  Félicien César David,  Paul Ben-Haim,  Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco  ... 
    Performer:  John G. Papaioannou,  Ursula Mayer-Reinach
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  • 21.
    Hollywood Screen Classics / Gerhardt, National Philharmonic
    Label: Chesky Records   Catalog: 71 Release Date: 06/23/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Manos Hadjidakis,  Miklós Rózsa,  Fumio Hayasaka,  Henry Mancini  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Gerhardt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 22.
    Songs My Country Taught Me / Agnes Baltsa, Stavros Xarhakos
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 419236 Release Date: 10/14/1986   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mikis Theodorakis,  Manos Hadjidakis
    Performer:  Agnes Baltsa
    Conductor:  Stavros Xarhakos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Athens Experimental Orchestra
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