"He lived with passion, a life dedicated to music, the arts, our country and its people, dedicated to the ideas of freedom, justice, equality, social solidarity," Greece's president said in a statement.
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Mikis Theodorakis, the Greek composer and political activist, has died at 96.

Theodorakis died on Thursday, the result of cardiopulmonary arrest, according to a statement on his website.

Mikis Theodorakis
Mikis Theodorakis
| Credit: Binder/ullstein bild via Getty Images

The composer was born July 29, 1925, on the Greek island of Chios. He developed an interest in writing music in his teens and went on to study at the Athens Conservatory.

As a young man during World War II, he joined resistance groups, fighting against the occupation by the Italians and Germans, and again fought in Greece's civil war. He suffered imprisonment and torture during both wars. 

Eventually, he made it to France in the early 1950s, where, under scholarship, he studied at the Paris Conservatory. 

He began his lengthy professional career as a composer in the mid-1950s, writing dozens and dozens of scores across the decades, including Zorba the Greek (starring Anthony Quinn) in 1964, and Serpico (starring Al Pacino) in 1973.

A political activist throughout his life, Theodorakis' music was banned in his own country from 1967-1974 when a military junta took over.

In the 1980s, Theodorakis became a member of parliament for the Greek Communist Party.

"He lived with passion, a life dedicated to music, the arts, our country and its people, dedicated to the ideas of freedom, justice, equality, social solidarity," Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said in a statement, per the Associated Press.

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