MASTER Greek Musician/Artist, Vangelis, Dead at 79…
Vangelis, a Greek composer known for his Oscar-winning work on films like Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner, died at the age of 79 late Tuesday night. Vangelis’ “private office” announced the news via his Elsewhere fan page.
Born in a small town of Agria in Thessaly and raised in Athens, Vangelis learned piano at a young age, though he never learned how to read or write music.
He left his native Greece amid a coup attempt in 1968 and settled in Paris. Vangelis, a variation of his first name which he said translates to “an angel that brings good news,” is how he became known as a composer.
In addition to composing his own electronic music, Vangelis composed scores for documentaries and films by French filmmaker Frederic Rossif. One of those scores, 1979’s Opera Sauvage, became a surprise success in the U.S. and led to what would become Vangelis’ greatest triumph: The score for 1981’s Chariots of Fire.
The film Chariots of Fire won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1982, but Vangelis’ next score was perhaps even more influential: In 1982, he created the electronic soundscape that accompanied Ridley Scott’s sci-fi noir classic Blade Runner.
His fascination with space found voice in 2016’s Rosetta, a piece dedicated to the eponymous space probe, and NASA designated his 1993 composition “Mythodea” as the official music of the Mars Odyssey mission of 2001.
His final album, 2021’s Juno to Jupiter, was inspired by NASA’s Juno space probe, which orbits Jupiter. The album featured recordings of the launch of the probe and also the workings of the probe itself in outer space.
Composing the music for his films, Vangelis would watch the movie and play along on his synthesizer at the same time. “When I compose I perform the music at the same time, so everything is live; nothing is pre-programmed,” he told Replay Magazine in 1993. “I don’t do any demos. ‘Improvising’ isn’t quite the word for it, but I do use the first idea and impression which comes into my head. I’ve done all my film scores like this, and worked on my albums in the same way. It’s much quicker, there’s no agonizing, and if I make a mistake then I’m the only one who can be blamed. The most important thing is to catch the spirit of the film.”
Vangelis is also famous for his music for Carl Sagan’s Cosmos and for many major international events, along with his collaborations with ‘Yes’ singer Jon Anderson, Demis Roussos, and many others.
For Vangelis, it is more important to achieve a harmonious result than to give any importance to where sounds come from. In an interview with Prog in 2016, Vangelis said, “I can remember as a child putting chains in my parents’ piano just to see how it would affect the sound! This kind of attitude has always remained with me.”
Despite his success, remained wary of commercial success, and valued his independence over record sales. “Success is sweet and treacherous,” Vangelis told The Observer in 2012. “Instead of being able to move forward freely, you find yourself stuck and obliged to repeat yourself.”
A personal hero of mine. He changed my world.
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