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Vangelis, who composed ‘Chariots of Fire’ dead at 79 – Riverside, California

Riverside, California 2022-05-20 07:19:48 –

Vangelis began playing the piano at the age of four, but claimed that he had not been formally trained and had never learned to read notes.

Athens, Greece — Vangelis, a Greek electronic composer, died at the age of 79, writing an unforgettable Academy Award-winning score for the film Chariots of Fire and dozens of other films, documentaries and television series music. I did.

Greek Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsutakis and other senior government officials expressed their condolences on Thursday. Greek media reported that Vangelis (born Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou) died in a French hospital late Tuesday.

“Vangelis Papasanashiou is no longer in us,” Mitsutakis tweeted, calling him “the sad news for the whole world”, “the pioneer of electronic sounds.”

The opening credits for “Chariots of Fire” roll as a lazy beatback song rises to a spectacular statement as a group of young runners slowly roaming the moody beaches of Scotland. It is one of the most immediately recognizable musical themes in cinemas, and its position in popular culture is only confirmed by the many parodies it has produced.

The 1981 British film made Vangelis, but his first encounter with success was his first Greek pop band in the 1960s.

He has evolved into a semi-classical orchestra, reminiscent of the very popular wavy sound waves, using a vast number of electronic devices. A muscular, humorous, private man with shoulder-length hair and a beard, quoted ancient Greek philosophy and regarded the artist as a fundamental universal force conduit. He was fascinated by space exploration and wrote music for celestial bodies, but he said he had never sought stardom himself.

Still, a microplanet spinning somewhere between Mars and Jupiter — 6354 Vangelis — will bear his name forever.

Vangelis was born on March 29, 1943, near the city of Volos in central Greece. He claimed he had no formal training and he had never learned to read notes, but he started playing the piano at the age of four.

“Orchestration, composition-they teach these things at music schools, but there are some things that can never be taught,” he said in an interview in 1982. “I can’t teach creation.”

At the age of 20, Vangelis and three friends formed the Phorminx band in Athens, which was very strong in Greece. After it disbanded, he wrote the scores for several Greek films and later became a founding member of Aphrodite’s Child with another internationally renowned Greek musician, Demis Roussos. The Paris-based progressive rock group produced hits in Europe, and their final record, “666,” released in 1972, is still highly regarded.

Aphrodite’s Child was also disbanded, and Vangelis pursued a solo project. In 1974 he moved to London to build his own studio and collaborate with Jesus frontman Jon Anderson. He recorded as John and Vangelis and recorded some big hits.

But his big breakthrough came with the “Chariots of Fire” score, which tells the true story of two British runners who participated in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. Vangelis’s score won one of four Academy Awards filmed by the film, including the Best Picture Award. Signature Piece is one of the most unforgettable movie songs in the world and also serves as the musical background for an endless slow-motion parody.

Vangelis later wrote scores for Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” (1982) and “1492: The Conquest of Paradise” (1992), “Missing” (1982) and “Antarctica” (1983). I did.

He rejected many other offers of film music, saying in an interview: It sounds like something is stuck. “

Vangelis was wary of how record companies handle commercial success. Upon success, he said, “You find yourself stuck and obliged to repeat your previous successes with yourself.”

His interest in science (including music and sound physics) and space exploration led to composition related to major NASA and European Space Agency projects. When British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking died in 2018, Vangelis created a musical compliment to his burial broadcast by the ESA into space.

Vangelis created the swell of a synthesizer playing alone in a bank of synthesizers. Meanwhile, his foot switched when he darts from one volume pedal to another.

“I work like an athlete,” he once said.

He said he had never taken medicine, saying he was “sometimes very uncomfortable”, avoiding the excessive lifestyle associated with many in the music industry.

Vangelis said he had never experimented with his music and usually did everything on his first take.

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

Decca, the record label for his last three albums, called the composer a “genius.”

“Vangelis has created music of extraordinary originality and power, and has provided a soundtrack to much of our lives,” he said. “Deca has been able to partner with Vangelis and his team on the last three albums. I miss him. His music will last forever.”

The composer lives in London, Paris and Athens and bought a house at the foot of the Acropolis. He never made dolls, even when his streets became one of the most desirable pedestrian walkways in town. The neoclassical building was almost demolished in 2007 when government officials decided to ruin the view of the ancient citadel from a new museum built next door, but it was finally reconsidered.

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

“I draw pictures every day and compose music every day,” he said — in that order.

Contributed by John Lester of Paris.

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