Greek composer Vangelis dies

Vangelis, the Greek composer of “Blade Runner” who died on Tuesday at the age of 79, was an electronic music pioneer, winner of the Oscar for the soundtrack of “Cariots of Fire”.


His death was announced Thursday by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. “Vangelis Papathanasiou is no longer with us,” he wrote on Twitter.

During his career of more than 50 years, the artist nicknamed Vangelis found his inspiration in exploring space, nature, futuristic architecture, the New Testament and the May 1968 student movement.

This self-taught keyboard genius has always enjoyed numerous experiences and has moved easily from psychedelic and synthetic rock to ethnic and jazz music.

His soundtrack to Hugh Hudson’s “Cariots of Fire” won an Oscar against John Williams’s music for Indiana Jones’ 1982 debut.


At the top of the US charts, his lineup was also a hit in the UK and was used for the 2012 London Olympics.

“His mastery and stormy inspiration in creating sounds, completely original, created a global audience,” said Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, “he was ecumenical.”

Among the dozens of soundtracks he has composed are those for Costa Gavra’s “Missing,” Ridley Scott “1492: Christopher Columbus,” Roman Polanski “Bile Moons” and “Alexander.” “Oliver Stone”.


He also wrote music for theater and ballet, as well as the anthem of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou was born in 1943 in the village of Agria near Volos (center). A wonderful child, he gave his first piano concerto at the age of 6, without actually taking any lessons.

“I have never studied music,” he told the Greek magazine Periodico in 1988, also complaining about the growing “exploitation” imposed by studios and the media.

“You can sell a million records and feel like a failure. “Or you can not sell anything and feel very happy,” he said.

After studying painting at the Athens School of Fine Arts, Vangelis joined the Greek rock band Forminx in the 1960s.


Their success was interrupted by the military junta in 1967, which suppressed freedom of expression.

In an attempt to reach the UK, he found himself trapped in Paris during the student movement of May 1968 and together with two other Greek exiles, Demis Roussos and Lucas Sideras, he formed the progressive rock band ‘Aphrodite’s Child’ ‘.


The band sold millions of hits such as ‘Rain and Tears’ before disbanding in 1972.

Moving to London in 1974, Vangelis set up Nemo Studios, “a sound lab”, producing most of his albums.

“Success is sweet and treacherous,” the lion-sized composer told the Observer in 2012.

“Instead of being able to move freely and do what you really want, you find yourself stuck and have to repeat yourself,” he added.

In 2019 in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the musician claimed to see parallels with the dystopia described in the movie “Blade Runner” by Ridley Scott.

“When I saw the images, I realized that this was the future. Not a bright future, of course. “But this is what we are going for,” he said.

Vangelis, who had a planet renamed after him in 1995, was a fascination with space. “Every planet sings,” he told the newspaper in 2019.

In 1980 he participated in the music of the science documentary Cosmos, with the Carla Sagan Prize.

He wrote music for NASA’s Mars Odyssey in 2001 and Juno Jupiter missions in 2011, and was inspired by a Grammy-nominated album from the 2016 Rosetta spacecraft mission.


In 2018, he composed a song for Stephen Hawking’s funeral where he mentioned the last words of the famous professor.

Vangelis has received the Max Steiner Film Score Award, the Legion of Honor in France, the NASA Public Service Medal and Greece’s highest honor, the Order of the Phoenix.

In the last years of his life, Vangelis divided the time between Paris, London and Athens, always staying sober about his private life.

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