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By the early 1970’s, London had become Maria’s adopted home, and it was there that she met the guitar virtuoso John Williams. The internationally-renowned artist was impressed by her voice and presence and together they made an exquisite recording of Theodorakis’s Romancero Gitano, a setting of poems by Federico Garcia Lorca. A victim of Spanish fascism, Lorca had been an inspiration to Theodorakis, who set his poetry to music just before the Greek coup d’état. In 1971, with Maria’s voice, John Williams’ on guitar, and the Elytis’s brilliant translations, Lorca’s poems found an ideal interpretation.

In Paris, where Theodorakis established himself following his release, he was soon in touch with the avant garde of his time. He supported François Mitterrand -leader of the French Socialist Party- with his concerts and Maria made such an impression on the French leader that he was inspired to write about her in his book The Bee and the Architect. In it he compared her to Greece itself and to the goddess Hera, he found her strong, pure, and vigilant.

When the Greek dictatorship fell, Mikis Theodorakis and Maria Farandouri returned to Greece, where they gave truly moving concerts to Greek audiences who had experienced seven years of fear and repression. 125,000 people attended the performance of Theodorakis’s Canto General in the Karaiskakis Stadium alone. Maria and her colleague, the baritone Petros Pandis, who had had the privilege of rehearsing this work in Paris under the gaze of the poet Pablo Neruda himself, put their own stamp on this extraordinary work.

Maria has always made conscious choices, and from early in her career she succeeded in achieving artistic independence; as a self-inspired artist, she was able to negotiate her way through all sorts of songs. Her teacher, Elli Nikolaidi, always at her side, was a valuable aid in Maria’s music practice. Faithful to the path she had followed, she was careful to preserve high artistic standards and the quality of her choices as she began to enrich her repertoire after 1976. After seven years abroad she was also driven by a natural desire to advance her career. As a citizen and artist of the world she had been in contact with foreign artists and performed in international festivals with such noted singers as Juliette Greco, Mercedes Sosa, Myriam Makeba, Inti Illimani and Maria del Mar Bonet. She offered Greek audiences the results of her experience in her Songs of Protest from all over the World, a recording that not only found an immediate response but became a gold record.

Her acquaintance with the leading actor of the Berliner Ensemble, Eckerhardt Schall, resulted in a fine collaboration for Maria’s performances of Bertolt Brecht’s songs. Maria was the first foreign artist accepted by German audiences as an interpreter of Brecht and in a language other than German. The performances she gave in Germany and later in Greece with Eckerhardt Schall were enormously successful.


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