Film composer Vangelis died May 17, 2022 in a French hospital at the age of 79. The official cause of death was not revealed.
While he has composed music for dozens of productions, he is best known for the award winning soundtrack “Chariots of Fire”.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called it “sad news for the entire world.”
“Chariots of Fire” may have put Vangelis on the map, but his professional music career began nearly two decades earlier with a Greek pop band.
Vangelis was fascinated by space and space exploration and wrote music that reflected that love including for NASA and the European Space Agency. He loved the stars but never sought stardom of his own; however, there is a micro planet rotating in space somewhere between Mars and Jupiter that bears his name – Vangelis 6354.
He as born Evangelos Odysseus Papthanassiou on March 29, 1943 in Volos, Greece where he began playing the piano when he was just four years old. Vangelis once noted that while they teach composition and orchestration in music schools; the one thing they don’t teach is creation.
A 20 year old Vangelis joined up with some mates to create the band Forminx but after the band broke up, he turned his hand to composing soundtracks for Greek films. Next came the Aphrodite’s Child. After the breakup of Aphrodite’s Child, Vangelis again turned to being a solo artist. He even joined up with Jon Anderson of Yes for some hit songs. Then came “Chariots of Fire” in 1981 and launched Vangelis into the stardom he never sought.
He was known for recording his music in a single take; saying “when I compose, I perform the music at the same time, so everything is live, nothing is pre-programmed.”
Calling him a genius, Decca Records spoke on Vangelis saying, “Vangelis created music of extraordinary originality and power, and provided the soundtrack to so many of our lives. Decca had the pleasure of partnering with Vangelis and his team for his past three albums and we will miss him enormously. His music will live on forever.”
A true artist, Vangelis painted every day and composed music every day.
Vangelis’ music has been heard on some 200 productions including “Death of a Princess”, “Cosmos” with Carl Sagan, “Missing”, “WKRP in Cincinnati”, “Blade Runner”, “Donna Summer: A Hot Summer Night”, “Magnum, P.I.” with Tom Selleck, “Someone to Watch Over Me”, “Single White Female”, “The Simpsons”, “Married…with Children”, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”, “Jon Anderson: Tour of the Universe”, “Fringe”, “Stranger Things”, and numerous television episodes that featured a clip from “Chariots of Fire”.
His compositions include the 2002 FIFA World Cup Anthem, “Chariots of Fire”, “1492: Conquest of Paradise”, “Jacques Cousteau: Rediscover the World II”, “Dancing for Oliver”, “Sermon”, and “Beyond the Sermon”.
No list of survivors was given.
feature photo credit: VangelisElGrecopremiere (cropped).jpg