Thousands gather for Crete burial of composer Theodorakis

Thousands of people have turned out on the southern Greek island of Crete to pay their final respects to Greek music great and politician Mikis Theodorakis, who is to be buried in a village near the city of Chania in accordance with his last wishes.

Theodorakis, an integral part of the Greek political and musical scene for decades, died last Thursday in Athens at the age of 96. His body lay in state in a chapel of the Athens Cathedral for three days from Monday to Wednesday, before being transported to Crete by ferry overnight.

Thousands awaited him on the island, where the municipal band led the way as his hearse drove to Chania cathedral. There, members of the public lined up to visit his casket, many laying a flower on top and bowing their heads to kiss the coffin.

Hours later, Theodorakis’ body was driven to the church of the village of Galatas, on the outskirts of Chania, where the main funeral service was being held. Greece’s president, prime minister, head of the opposition party and other politicians attended the service along with Theodorakis’ family.

Theodorakis was as well-known in Greece for his political activities as for his musical career. He penned a wide range of work, from somber symphonies to popular TV and film scores, including for “Serpico” and “Zorba the Greek.”

He is also remembered for his opposition to the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974, a time during which he was persecuted and jailed and his music outlawed.

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