Vangelis, composer of “Chariots of Fire”, died at 79

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Vangelis, the composer of Greek origin, has died. He was 79 years old.

The award-winning composer, born Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, died in a French hospital in Paris, according to Greek media. A cause of death has not been released.

Vaneglis produced an Oscar-winning score for “Chariots of Fire.” He also produced the music for “Blade Runner” in 1982.

Vangelis, Greek composer of electronic music, has died aged 79.
(Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and other government officials expressed their condolences on Thursday.


“Vangelis Papathanassiou is no longer with us”, Mitsotakis tweeted.

“For the whole world, the sad news that the world music firm has lost the international Vangelis. The protagonist of electronic sound, Oscars, Myth and greatest successes”, continues the tweet.

The opening credits of “Chariots of Fire” roll by as a group of young runners slow down a sullen Scottish beach, while a lazy, rhythmic tune rises to a masterful declamation. It is one of the most instantly recognizable musical themes in cinema, and its position in popular culture has only been confirmed by the multitude of parodies it has spawned.

Greek composer Vangelis produced music for "chariots of fire" and "Blade runner."

Greek composer Vangelis produced music for “Chariots of Fire” and “Blade Runner”.
(Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images)

The 1981 British film helped define Vangelis, but his first encounter with success came with his first Greek pop group in the 1960s.

It evolved into a near-classical one-man orchestra, using a vast array of electronic equipment to conjure up its hugely popular undulating sound waves. A private, humorous man – burly, with shoulder-length hair and a trimmed beard – he cited ancient Greek philosophy and saw the artist as a conduit for a basic universal force. He was fascinated with space exploration and wrote music for celestial bodies, but said he never sought fame himself.


Yet a micro-planet revolving somewhere between Mars and Jupiter – 6354 Vangelis – will forever bear his name.

Born on March 29, 1943, near the city of Volos in central Greece, Vangelis began playing the piano at the age of 4, although he received no formal training and claimed n never learned to read notes.

Vangelis performs live at Aan de Maas, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, June 18, 1991.

Vangelis performs live at Aan de Maas, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, June 18, 1991.
(Rob Verhorst/Redferns)

“Orchestration, composition – they teach those things in music schools, but there are things you can never teach,” he said in a 1982 interview. creation.”

Vangelis went on to write scores for Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” (1982) and “1492: Conquest of Paradise” (1992), as well as “Missing” (1982) and “Antarctica” (1983), among others.

He turned down many other offers of film scores, once saying in an interview, “Half the movies I see don’t need music. It sounds like something inlaid.”

Vangelis said he never experimented with his music and usually recorded everything from the first take.

Vangelis, a Greek electronic music composer, surrounded by equipment in a room in 1976.

Vangelis, a Greek electronic music composer, surrounded by equipment in a room in 1976.
(Michael Putland/Getty Images)

“When I compose, I perform the music at the same time, so everything is live, nothing is pre-programmed,” he said.


The composer lived in London, Paris and Athens, where he bought a house at the foot of the Acropolis which he never embellished, even when his street became one of the city’s most popular pedestrian promenades. . The neoclassical building was nearly demolished in 2007 when government officials decided it spoiled views of the ancient citadel from a new museum built next door but ultimately reconsidered.

Vangelis has received numerous awards in Greece, France and the United States. Little was known about his personal life other than that he was an avid painter.

“Every day I paint and every day I compose music,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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