Acclaimed Greek composer and former politician Thanos Mikroutsikos has died at the age of 72.

He was considered one of the most important composers of the recent Greek musical scene.

Mikroutsikos died at the Athens’ Metropolitan Hospital where he was treated for cancer. The hospital announced his death on Saturday evening.

He was born in Patra, on 13th April 1947.

He is the older brother of Andreas Mikroutsikos, who is also a musician/composer and a television show host. His wife is children’s author Maria Papagianni, whom he married in 1996.

He studied piano in the Philharmonic Society of Patras and in the Hellenic Conservatory. In addition, he studied Mathematics in the University of Athens.

He began composing at the end of the 1960s but only officially debuted in 1975, with the release of his album Politika Tragoudia (‘Political Songs’). He continued on this compositional path, setting to music the poems of Giannis Ritsos, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Manos Eleftheriou and Bertold Brecht, among others.

His album, Stavros tou Notou (Southern Cross), set to the poetry of Nikos Kavvadias, has been one of the musical landmarks of modern Greece.

He has worked with many renowned singers such as Maria Dimitriadi, Haris Alexiou, Manolis Mitsias, Dimitris Mitropanos, Vasilis Papakonstantinou, Christos Thibaios and Giannis Koutras, among others.

Hits including ‘Roza’,  ‘Erotiko’, ‘O Amlet Tis Selinis’, ‘Mia Pista Apo Fosforo’, ‘I Agapi Einai Zali’, ‘Mpoum’, famous songs that have captivated listeners on the London Greek Radio air-waves for years.

His music has been particularly well received and recognised in Western Europe. During his career, he has managed to liberate the form of Greek song, adding together elements from the modernist and classical western tradition. He also experimented with the combination of tonal and atonal sounds and with morphological variation.

He has been involved in Greece’s political life since the 1960s. During the turbulent years of the military junta (1967–1974), he was persecuted by the regime for his anti-dictatorial activities and ideas.

After the elections of October 1993, he was appointed as Deputy Minister of Culture by the new Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) government, serving alongside the late Melina Merkouri who was Minister of Culture. He was appointed to Merkouri’s position when she died in 1994, a position he kept until 1996.

Mikroutsikos’ funeral will take place at 2:30 pm (local time) on Monday at Athens’ First Cemetery, in a civilian ceremony, per his wishes.

Article written by London Greek Radio