The Greek composer of Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire and 1492: Christopher Columbus , Vangelis Papathanassiou, nicknamed “Vangelis”, died at the age of 79, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Twitter on Thursday evening May 19 .
Vangelis Papathanassiou is no longer with us. (…) The world of music has lost international [artist] Vangelis. The protagonist of electronic sound, Oscars, myth and big hits.
Born on March 29, 1943 in the village of Agria, near Volos in central Greece, the artist drew his inspiration from space exploration, nature, futuristic architecture, the New Testament and the student movement of May 68. This autodidact always liked to multiply experiences and had passed with ease from psychedelic rock and synth to ethnic music and jazz.
“It’s a shock” and “a great loss for the world of music, in general, film music and for the history of electronic music, of which he was one of the pioneers” , declared the French composer Jean- Michel Jarre at Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Vangelis also recently signed the anthem for the FIFA World Cup, which will take place from November 21 to December 18, 2022 in Qatar.
Among the dozen soundtracks he has composed are those for Costa-Gavras’ film Missing , Lunes de fiel, by Roman Polanski, and Alexandre, by Oliver Stone. His soundtrack for Chariots of Fire, by Hugh Hudson, won an Oscar against John Williams’ music for the first Indiana Jones film in 1982.
At the top of the American charts, its composition was also a hit in the United Kingdom and was used for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
A child prodigy, he gave his first piano concert at the age of 6, without having really taken any lessons. “I never studied music ,” he told the Greek magazine Periodiko in 1988, also lamenting the growing “exploitation” imposed by the studios and the media. He had added:
You can sell a million records and feel like a failure. Or you can sell nothing at all and feel very happy .
“Success is sweet and treacherous”
After studying painting at the Athens School of Fine Arts, Vangelis joined the Greek rock band the Forminx in the 1960s. Their success was cut short by the military junta in 1967 which put a damper on freedom of speech.
Trying to reach the UK, he found himself stranded in Paris, during the student movement of May 68, and with two other Greek exiles, Demis Roussos and Lucas Sideras, he formed a progressive rock band Aphrodite’s Child. The group sold millions of records with hits such as Rain and Tears, before disbanding in 1972.