Death of Vangelis, Greek composer of the Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner soundtrack

Musician and composer, Vangelis had composed the soundtrack of many Hollywood films. He passed away at 79.

Born Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou on March 29, 1943 in Greece, Vangelis was one of the pioneers of electronic music in the 1970s. 79 years old, the Greek Prime Minister announced on Thursday.

He had been consecrated in 1981 during the Oscars Ceremony for the music of the film Chariots of Fire, directed by the British Hugh Hudson. Its ample and majestic theme will be repeated many times, in particular by advertising, both for an American fast food chain, a car manufacturer, but also the Red Cross. Twenty years later, he will sign the theme of the football world cup, which will take place in South Korea and Japan.

Born March 29, 1943 in Volos, in the region of Thessaly, he is behind a piano from the age of 4 years. At the beginning of the 1960s, he joined a jazz orchestra which would be successful under the name of The Firminx. But it was in Paris, following the events of May 1968, that he composed his first hit, Rain & Tears with the group Aphrodite’s Child, with the singer Demis Roussos who would pursue a fine career in France. The lyrics of the song are signed Boris Bergman, who will become Alain Bashung’s collaborator ten years later. The group broke up in 1972, and Vangelis alone completed the conception of the album 666, the flagship record of what was then said to be progressive rock.

Vangelis in the studio in 1981, a pivotal year for the artist who would compose the soundtrack of the chariots of fire de Hugh Hudson. MEPL / Bridgeman Images

Abyssal and spatial music

Very quickly, film music became his main activity, still in Paris. The first production for which he composed in 1970 was Sex Power, by the journalist Chapier. He worked closely with documentary filmmaker Frédéric Rossif the following year. In 1972, he released his first solo album, Make your dream longer than the night. Two years later, the British group Yes asked him to replace the virtuoso pianist Rick Wakeman, who had gone to try the solo adventure. Vangelis declines the proposal, preferring to develop its own projects. This did not prevent him from settling in London where he composed the material for four solo albums produced under the sole name Vangelis.

His coronation at the 1982 Oscars ceremony, during which William Hurt collected the trophy in his place, opened the doors of Hollywood wide to him. He becomes the favorite collaborator of Ridley Scott, who offers him the score of Blade Runner the same year. Ten years later, the two men will work on 1492, the story of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. He composed the score for Lune de Fiel for Roman Polanski in 1993, before retiring from film music.

He will return there with the American Oliver Stone in 2004 and the film Alexandre, which will be largely rewarded. He was part of the jury of the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, under the presidency of Roman Polanski, the year in which Barton Fink of the Coen brothers won the Palme d’Or. His pioneering work on machines in the 1970s made this Greek musician with an international career one of the world pioneers of electronic music, in the same way as Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk or Klaus Schulze.

By Editor

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