Manos Hadjidakis was a leading Greek composer and poet. He was born in Xanthi and his father was born in Rethymno. The house that was born, built in the late 18th century with neoclassical elements and a little baroque, is now characterized as works of art and as a historical preserved monument.
From an early age, he dealt with music, did piano lessons with the Armenian pianist Altounian, and at the same time practicing in the violin and accordion. Young Hadjidakis worked for livelihood as a cargo shipper at the harbor, an ice pack at the Phox factory, an employee at the Megaloconomos’ Photogallery and an assistant nurse at the 401 Military Hospital. He studied at the University of Athens’ Philosophical School, but he did not graduate.
The first appearance of Hadjidakis as a composer took place in 1944, at the age of 19, with his participation in the work “Last Asprokorakas” by Alexis Solomos, at the Art Theater of Karolos Koun. He attended acting classes, and Charles Koun was the one who urged him to deal with music. His collaboration with the Art Theater will prove to be very productive and will last about fifteen years. Hatzidakis discovers and studies the rebetika song, at the age of 23 he gives the famous lecture on the value and the deep meaning of the Rebetiko Song.
In 1957, he began a period of intense creative activity, he nonstop composed theater and cinema, where his work is widely popular, while he also writes many important musical works.
1960 was a year of honors and awards. He was awarded the first prize at the 2nd Festival of Light Songs of EIR. for “Kyparissaki” and “Thomoria” with Nana Mouskouri, he won the award for his music at “Potami” by Nikos Koundouros at the Thessaloniki Film Festival, he wrote “The Children of Piraeus” for “Never Sunday” by Zyl Dassen, and won the Oscar for Best Original Song next year. This award gave him worldwide publicity, which Hadjidakis tried to avoid in any way, considering that he was deprived of the possibility to shape the same relationship with the listener.
In 1962 Hadjidakis sponsored the Manos Hadjidakis Composition Competition at the Doxiadis Technological Institute in Athens and in 1964 he founded and directed the Athens Experimental Orchestra (1964-66). In the short term of its operation, the orchestra gave 20 concerts with premieres of fifteen works by Greek composers, and its co-operation with Maurice Bizarre begins. The Birds are climbing from the 20th Century Ballet in Brussels. Some of the works of this period include the music of Euripides’ “Medea”, I. Campanelli’s “Fairytale without Name”, Brecht’s Circle of Chalk, “Street of dreams”, but also “The smile of the Jokon”.
In 1966, Manos Hadjidakis visits New York City to bring Broadway with Zyl Dessen and Melina Mercouri theatrical adaptation of “Never Sunday” with the title “Illya Darling.” He came close to the musical genres of rock and pop music and created various collaborations with artists of these kinds. He was appointed Deputy General Manager of the Greek Stage and took over as Director of the State Orchestra as well as Director of the State Radio Station Third Program.
In 1979 Manos Hadjidakis establishes the “Musical Feasts” in Anogia, Crete, which includes local folk dances and songs. It also organizes a conference on tradition, involving intellectuals, artists and academics. The following year, the “Music August” in Heraklion launches an art festival with the main aim of presenting new trends in both music and dance, cinema, painting, and theater. During the period 1981 – 1982 he also organizes the Greek song contests in Corfu, a musical competition for young Greek composers. Hatzidakis’ intense engagement with the public during this period is reflected in a significant part of his work.
During the occupation, it was incorporated into EPON Pangrati. He wrote poems for children in EPON New Generation magazine in the early years of his release, from 1943 onwards with the pseudonym Petros Granitis. Hadjidakis had heretic ideas and many modern scholars, as well as journalists, wondered about his real political identity. Hadjidakis’ attitude towards public life is determined by his aesthetics and characterizes an important part of his work.
Manos Hadjidakis died on June 15, 1994, from acute pulmonary edema.
Information from Wikipedia