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Famous Greek composer to be awarded Russia's St. Andrew Prize

Moscow, July 18 (RIA Novosti, Olga Lipich) - The St. Andrew Foundation has decided to award Mikis Theodorakis the St. Andrew Prize.

Theodorakis is arguably Greece's most famous contemporary composer. The Russian cultural foundation will award him the prize for his efforts to empower people spiritually and to promote peace and harmony between nations.

The diamond-studded St. Andrew Prize will be presented to Theodorakis in Crete on July 31 during his 80th birthday celebrations, which will be attended by guests from all across the world.

The award, established in 1992, is conferred upon both Russians and foreigners regardless of their religious beliefs, political affiliation, race, sex, or professional occupation.

Theodorakis received international acclaim early in his career. In 1959, he won a gold medal at the Moscow Music Festival. His song cycle Epitaphios triggered a cultural revolution in Greece. In the 1960s, he founded the Little Orchestra of Athens.

Theodorakis is known for his political activities as well as for his music. He joined the Resistance Movement during WWII. When a fascist junta seized power in Greece in 1967, he went underground and set up a patriotic front. The authorities then imposed a ban on his music and sent him to a concentration camp. The international solidarity movement headed by Dmitri Shostakovich, Leonard Bernstein, and Arthur Miller successfully campaigned for Theodorakis' release. The government then exiled the composer.

Whilst in exile, Theodorakis continued to champion the deposition of the junta and the unification of resistance forces. As part of the struggle for the restoration of democracy in Greece, he gave about a thousand recitals across the world, becoming an epitome of resistance to dictatorship.

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