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Dimitris Mitropanos' voice trailed off forever

17 April 2012 / 18:04:50  GRReporter
9155 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

One of the most famous voices in Greece, Dimitris Mitropanos, died today in a hospital in Athens. The singer, favourite of generations of fans of Greek music, perished at the age of 64 and left behind great works and a huge gap. After suffering from a heart attack, he was hospitalized. There, his breathing deteriorated rapidly and despite the efforts of doctors, he died of pulmonary oedema.

Mitropanos, born in 1948, is one of the most typical representatives of Greek popular song. In an interview for GRReporter, composer Periklis Hilas defined him as "the last Mohican of artists of his generation."

"These people had courage in the full sense of the word. It distinguishes the person of honour. He walks upright, looks ahead and is true; there is nothing false. Although there is no such word for women, it applies to some of them. I.e. courage here describes such people’s virtues, not their gender.

The voice has a face, voice, memory; it carries the morality of its era. Dimitris Mitropanos expressed all that. By this, I do not want to diminish the quality of songs performed by him. I would rather like to stress that his voice "lightened" differently a song only passing through his voice. It had an importance that no longer exists today."

The difficulties experienced by him in early childhood have certainly contributed to the formation of his stable and permanent nature. Dimitris Mitropanos was born in the neighbourhood of Agia Moni near the town of Trikala. He grew up without his father, whom he met at the age of 29. He thought his father was killed during the Civil War, until he received a letter, which read that he was alive and lived in Romania. At that time, the singer was 16 years old.

He started working in summers to help his family since he was a child. He worked as a waiter in his uncle's tavern first, then as a sawyer. In 1964, he moved to Athens together with his uncle and began working as a singer even before finishing high school.

Then was the "golden" era of Greek popular music. The famous composer and singer Grigoris Bithikotsis advised him to go to Columbia recording studio, where he met the legendary maestro of bouzouki George Zambetas. Mitropanos began singing with his orchestra in one of the most famous establishments in Athens at that time "Ximeromata". "Zambetas is the only person who helped me without expecting anything in return from me," he said while alive of the man, who he called his teacher and stepfather.

Two years later, he met Mikis Theodorakis and sang "Axion esti" in the poems of the Nobel Prize award-winning poet Odysseas Elytis. In his long time spent with music, Dimitris Mitropanos collaborated with some of the greatest representatives of both the popular and the more modern Greek song.

According to the composer Periklis Hilas, the absence of such artists is due to the epoch in which we live. "Our time is the time of making things carelessly, it matters who you know, it is the time of getting through here and there, of how to become famous, of lifestyle, etc., which began in the 1980s. Superficiality lies behind all this. It has no roots, it is like these modern plants the roots of which are in water, not in earth. To say it metaphorically, this man had roots in earth and this was evident in his voice. His voice stood up, it did not revolve around an artificial image. He was a real person.

It is not a coincidence that all recognize that. This does not mean that when all support anything they are right. But sometimes, as with Dimitris Mitropanos, there is this popular instinct that recognizes things. Then, the audience ceases to be a crowd and becomes society. It is not by chance that people like him were growing up. They were not just mature, but also adults. Dimitris Mitropanos did not try to look forever young – he was a man getting old following the natural course of life. Moreover, throughout his life, he was going along a stable road. That is why I said above that the man of courage walks upright. He does not employ tricks, does not bow his head, he calls a spade a spade and speaks to all in the same way regardless of who his interlocutor is. He does not have a different mask. He is true. This fully applies to Dimitris Mitropanos. And I think this is something that all people understand."

Asked whether the crisis would help the Greek song return to its true nature, Periklis Hilas replied emphatically. "I would not say that we could be certain about that. Usually, in times of crisis the first to crawl are fraudsters, extortionists, black traders. But the fact that this crisis could not be avoided, because there was no other way to correct things is undisputed. In my opinion, simple repairs could not remedy this structure - it had to be destroyed.

We had all learned to act the easy way. Ultimately, we now have the opportunity to see who is who and because there will be more difficulties, not only good things pop to the surface. For example, "Golden Dawn" will manage to enter parliament and it is not a good thing. Then, we hope a new unity in society will emerge. We live in a country where everything related to limits is said and yet, we lost all sense of limits. If now people are forced by circumstances to impose a lifestyle based on limits, it may take them closer to art."

Tags: MusicDimitris MitropanosGreek popular musicSingerWorks
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