Vangelis, a Greek composer whose exciting electronic music for the 1981 Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire became one of his favorite movies, has died at the age of 79.
The law firm representing the composer said he died late Tuesday without giving a cause of death.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakas Mitsatokis called Vangelis a “pioneer of electronic sound” in a Twitter message. “He began his long journey in chariots of fire. From there he will always send us his notes, ”Mitsotakis wrote.
“Ad astra, Vangelis” – Latin means “to the stars” – wrote on NASA’s Twitter, which says that Vangelis has contributed much to the study of Jupiter.
Born in 1943, Evangelos Odysseus Papatanasiou, a young Vangelis early showed an interest in music and experimented with sounds generated by knocking pots and pans or attaching nails, glasses and other objects to the strings of his father’s piano.
He absorbed tons of Greek folk songs and Orthodox choral music, but had no formal musical education, which, he later said, helped preserve his sense of creativity.
After working with local rock bands, Vangelis moved to Paris at the age of 25, joining the exodus of young artists after the 1967 coup that resulted in the creation of a military junta in Greece.
Away from home, he was attracted to the then new field of electronic synthesizers, which allowed him to create magnificent melodic colors that became his signature sound.
Despite his success on the European “prog-rock” scene in the early 1970s with Aphrodite’s Child, a band he formed with other Greek musician Demis Roussos, Vangelis felt uncomfortable with expectations from a commercial performer and mostly retired to a recording studio. which he created. for themselves in London.
It was there that he wrote the score for “Chariots of Fire,” the story of the triumph of a group of British runners at the 1924 Olympics.
Undoubtedly outdated, its pulsating synthesizer beats and soaring melody have made the slow-moving initial sequence of a group of athletes running along the beach a model of how the cinema reflects the sport.
Vangelis once said that the score, which earned him an Oscar and topped the charts for several weeks, was partly a tribute to his father, who was an avid amateur runner.
But he also lightly brushed aside the immense popularity she enjoyed.
“It’s just another piece of music,” he told the interviewer.
The success of “Chariots of Fire” overshadowed his other scores, but he wrote music for a number of major films, including “Missing” by his compatriot Costa Gavras and the futuristic thriller Ridley Scott’s “Runner on Medicine.”
He has been a prolific composer for decades, his work ranging from advertising music and scores for films to complex compositions in symphonic style and “Jon and Vangelis”, his duet with John Anderson, vocalist of the rock band Yes.
But he still feared commercial success, once telling the interviewer that he never considered music just entertainment.