Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis is probably best known for the soundtrack to the film 'Zorba the Greek,' but he has produced an extensive body of concert music and includes Olivier Messiaen among his teachers. Much of his work has a political subtext and attempts a synthesis of popular, folk and classical symphonic styles, communicating directly with simple rhythms and a pared-down harmonic vocabulary reminiscent of Carl Orff. The oratorio "axion esti" is a setting of a poem by Nobel Prize winner Odysseus Elytis that refers to events of the Second World War and the subsequent German-Italian occupation of Greece. The nationalist flavor of the piece is underscored by the use of Byzantine church music, Greek folk dances and native instruments such as the bouzouki, in addition to a vocalist cast as a "folk singer." This 1983 Dresden performance, conducted by Theodorakis himself, is sung in German.
In the Ancient Greek city of Thebes, King Oedipus killed his father and married his mother Jocasta, having two sons - Eteocles and Polynieces - and two daughters - Ismene and Antigone. King Oedipus died a beggar in the exile after gouging out his own eyes, and Eteocles agreed to reign in Thebes in alternating years with Polynieces. However, Eteocles refuses to resign after the first year and Polynieces is exiled.