Vangelis, the Greek composer and musician whose synth-driven work added great drama to cinema soundtracks such as Blade Runner and Chariots of Fire, passed away at the age of 79. He died at a French hospital, according to his representatives. For his dramatic music for Chariots of Fire, he earned an Academy Award in 1981.
Vangelis’ massive influence on current film music, according to Oscar-nominated British composer Daniel Pemberton, is impossible to deny.
“It’s also difficult to comprehend how innovative Chariots of Fire was. A period British film with incredible synth music”
Vangelis’s late Oscar-winning composer career
Vangelis was born Evangelos Odessey Papathanassiou in Greece in 1943. He began playing when he was six years old at the Athens Music School. Vangelis was born in Athens and joined his first band, the Forminx, in 1963, playing pop and Beatles covers. After a few years, he began working on film scores and sessions.
He formed the progressive rock quintet Aphrodite’s Child with a number of Greek ex-pats, notably Demis Roussos, after moving to Paris in 1968. The group’s song Rain and Tear topped the French, Belgian, and Italian charts, as well as reaching the UK Top 30. After moving to London in 1975, he began working with Yes frontman Jon Anderson, releasing four albums as Jon and Vangelis between 1980 and 1991, one of which reached number one in the United Kingdom.
The soundtrack album’s opening theme, Titles, topped the Billboard Hot 100 the following month. Throughout the Olympic Games, the motif has been repeated. The Bounty, Francesco, Bitter Moon, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, and Alexander all featured him.
According to the Greek composer:
“My goal was not to produce a symphony orchestra, which I could easily accomplish, but to go farther and achieve things that the symphony orchestra couldn’t. And I believe I was successful in creating something similar.”
Decca released Juno to Jupiter, his last studio album, in September 2021. The song featured vocalist Angela Gheorghiu and was inspired by NASA’s Juno spacecraft mission. Tributes have poured in after the musician’s death was confirmed.
Kyriakos Mitsotak, Greek Prime Minister, stated:
“Vangelis Papathanassiou has passed away. Vangelis, the internationally renowned (artist), has died.”