Iconic Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, best known for his work on celebrated films like Zorba the Greek, Z and Serpico, passed away on Thursday at his home in Athens. He was 96. Considered by many in cinema to be one of the most influential composers of the 20th century, his official website has listed the reason of his death to be due to cardiopulmonary arrest. Greece’s cultural minister Lina Mendoni tweeted her condolences and wrote, "Today we lost a part of Greece’s soul. Mikis Theodorakis, Mikis the teacher, the intellectual, the radical, our Mikis, has gone." Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou hailed him as a "pan-Hellenic personality… a universal artist, an invaluable asset of our musical culture," with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announcing three days of national mourning.

Born Michail Theodorakis on Chios, the fifth largest of the Greek islands in the northern Aegean Sea, on July 29, 1925, Mikis took an interest in music and politics from a young age. He began writing music and poetry during his teen years around about the time Greece entered World War II. It was at this time when he got arrested by occupiers from Italy and Germany in the country after his involvement in left-wing resistance groups was discovered. Theodorakis was later sent to jail in the remote Greek islands, including the "re-education" camp on the tiny island of Makronissos near Athens. The composer had suffered broken limbs, including a host of respiratory issues and several other injuries after he had to endure severe physical torture. He also suffered from tuberculosis and was admitted for psychiatric treatment, while also being subjected to mock executions. That said, Theodorakis went on to carve a name for himself as a credible musician and garnered a big reputation for his musical scores on films, including the 1973 Hollywood blockbuster, Serpico, starring Al Pacino.