A Famous film composer and synth pioneer Vangelis Papathanassiou has died at 79
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Vangelis Papathanassiou: The composer who gave the synth-driven voice to the film Charities of Fire has died. He was 79 years old. According to his assistant, Lefteris Germas, Vangelis died on May 17 in a Paris hospital.
Vangelis Papathanassiou was a self-taught musician
Vangelis Evangelos Odysseus Papatanassi was born in the Greek town of Agria. Vangelis Papathanassiou was a self-taught musician who became a young piano prodigy. He then moved to Paris and co-founded Aphrodite’s Child, a popular prog-rock group. The band eventually split and Vangelis secured a solo record deal with RCA Records.
In 1981, he composed the score for Charities of Fire. Its opening theme, with its uplifting inspirational embellishment and ornate arrangement, was released as a single and reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100. His efforts won him the Academy Award for Best Original Score.
Success led him to other film work. Most notably, he composed the soundtrack to the original Blade Runner, as well as Carl Sagan’s PBS documentary series Cosmos. Aside from creating scores, Vangelis is also prolific in his solo career, releasing albums regularly until last year’s Juno to Jupiter.
Vangelis Papathanassiou produced The 1981 British film
Vangelis Papathanassiou produced The 1981 British film, but the initial confrontation with their success came in the 1960s with their first Greek pop band. He evolved into a solo quasi-classical orchestra using a wide range of electronic instruments to persuade his enormously popular wave of music. A private, humorous man – with shoulder-length hair and a trim beard – he referred to ancient Greek philosophy and saw the artist as a source of radical universal power. He was fascinated by space exploration and wrote music for celestial bodies, but said he never wanted to star.
Still, a delicate planet orbiting somewhere between Mars and Jupiter – 6354 Vangelis – will bear his name forever. Born on March 29, 1943, near Volos, central Greece, Vangelis began playing the piano at age 4, although she received no formal training and said she had never learned to read notes.
“They teach these things in music schools – orchestration, composition, but there are some things you can never teach,” he said in a 1982 interview. “You can’t teach creation.”
Forminx Band in Athens
At the age of 20, Vangelis and three friends formed the Forminx Band in Athens, which performed well in Greece. After it was disbanded, he wrote scores for several Greek films and later became a founding member – along with the internationally renowned Greek musician Demis Rousseau after Aphrodite’s Child. The Paris-based, progressive rock group has produced several European hits, and their final record “666”, released in 1972, is still highly acclaimed.
The Aphrodite’s Child was also broken, and the Vangelis pursued solo projects. In 1974, he moved to London, built his own studio, and collaborated with Yes frontman John Anderson, with whom he recorded John and Wangelis and had several major hits.
But his biggest breakthrough came with the score “Chariots of Fire”, which tells the true story of two British runners competing in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. The film won one of four Academy Awards, including Vangelis’ score for Best Picture. Signature Peace is one of the most difficult movie tunes to forget around the world – and has served as a musical backdrop for endless slow-motion parodies.