The Austrian Parliament on Thursday dropped a scheduled performance of the song trilogy 'Mauthausen' by Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis from a memorial event commemorating the 66th anniversary since the liberation of the Mauthausen extermination camp held at the Austrian Parliament. Austrian National Council President Barbara Prammer cancelled the performance on the grounds that the now octagenarian composer had made "repeated anti-Semitic statements in past years".
The song cycle was one of the composer's influential 'meta-symphonic' compositions of the mid-60s and set to music the works of Greek writer Iakovos Kampanellis, a personal friend of Theodorakis, in which the poet recounted his own experiences as a survivor of Mauthausen.
The memorial service, which has been held at the Austrian Parliament each year on May 5 since 1997, took place on Thursday in the presence of Austrian President Heinz Fisher.
Memorial services are also scheduled to take place next Sunday at the site of the former concentration camp, where 122,000 people were killed by Nazi authorities, including 3,700 Greeks. Prammer will head a Austrian delegation at these events, which will include dozens of delegations from other European countries whose citizens were victims of the camp.
These will include a delegation from Greece, which plans to lay wreaths and present Theodorakis' 'Mauthausen' performed by the Vienna musical group called 'The Greeks'.
The composer, accompanied at the time by Kampanellis, had first performed 'Mauthausen' at the site of the former concentration camp in 1988 in a historic concert featuring Maria Farantouri and attended by the then Austrian chancellor Franz Vranitzky.