Composer “Vangelis” Papathanasiou dies aged 79

Born Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou in 1943, Vangelis died in a hospital in France where he was being treated for COVID-19.

“It is with great sadness that we announce that the great Greek Vangelis Papathanassiou passed away late in the night of Tuesday May 17,” announced his lawyer.

The news was shared by many, including Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis who tweeted: “Vangelis Papathanassiou is no longer with us. The music world has lost the international Vangelis.

He was internationally known as Vangelis and revered for his groundbreaking musical compositions, but was also a writer and producer.

Vangelis was most famous for his synthesizer work in film scores which propelled classical style compositions into the future.

Born in Agria, Volos grew up in Athens and studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts. He formed his first band in 1963, called the Forminx, experimenting with 1960s pop music and upbeat rock’n’roll and ballads while performing Beatles covers.

After 1966 the group disbanded due to the Greek junta and Vangelis began producing and composing music for others, beginning his career writing scores for Greek films.

In 1968, he moved to Paris for more freedom of expression where he formed the progressive rock quartet Aphrodite’s Child with Demis Roussos and Lucas Sideras who also fled Greece.

Papathanasiou won an Oscar for his 1981 score for the film Chariots of Fire, composing and performing the most popular piano motif that reached No. 1 on the US music charts.

His score for the iconic sci-fi film Blade Runner was also celebrated for its dystopian iteration of a futuristic version of Los Angeles, where robots and humans dance to ambient sounds, malevolent synth passages and saxophones.

“It turned out to be a very prophetic film – we now live in a sort of Blade Runner world,” he said in 2005.

Some of his most famous soundtracks include Costa-Gavras’ “Missing”, “Antarctica”, “The Bounty”, “1492: Conquest of Paradise”, Roman Polanski’s “Bitter Moon”, and Oliver Stone’s epic ” Alexander”.

He also wrote music for theater and ballet, as well as the 2002 FIFA World Cup anthem.

Vangelis, who always loved the mysteries of space, had a planet named after him in 1995.

“Every planet sings,” he told the LA Times in 2019.

NASA also commemorated Vangelis, tweeting at the news of his death: “Ad astra, Vangelis.

The film’s composer contributed scores to our #JunoMission to Jupiter explorations. Here, soar with the @NASASolarSystem spacecraft around Jupiter and the moon Ganymede, complete with sound.

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