Vangelis, a self-taught, Oscar-winning Greek composer who wielded a dashboard of synthesizers in New Age and cinema, with impressive, cosmic scores, especially for “Charities of Fire” and “Blade Runner”, died at a Paris hospital on May 17. He was 79 years old.
“Chariots of Fire” (1981) was Vangelis ‘first studio feature, and it won him an Academy Award – best for John Williams’ traditionally orchestral “Riders of the Lost Ark.” “Chariots of Fire” also won an Oscar for Best Picture for the crowd-pleasing story of English runners representing their country at the 1924 Olympic Games, and opened with an iconic image of young men running slowly on a beach.
Vangelis’ score – confronted by a buzzing music rising above a loudly beating rhythm – denies the film’s time-trap with its space-age palette and poplik melody.
“It’s an electrical texture that at first seemed strangely modern to a film, so it’s hard to fit into a 20s setting,” pop music critic Richard Harrington wrote in the Washington Post at the time. And it’s easy to suffocate all of a sudden. “
Vangelis also, presumably, floated with the runners.
“I try to put myself in the situation and feel it,” the composer told Harrington. “I was a runner at the time, or alone in the stadium, or in the dressing room … and then I composed … and the moment was fruitful and honest, I think.”
The score brought Vangelis international fame, and the soundtrack became the fastest-selling LP at the time. Its theme is one of the most recognizable in the history of film music – and has been parodied
He cemented his cinematic legacy with “Blade Runner” the following year, drafting a great, ice-cold composition for Ridley Scott’s Neo-Noir sci-fi film – a failure of his day that became a classic and inspired the 2017 sequel.
Scott met with Vangelis every night while he was filming in London, and his reaction was vividly remembered when he heard the composer’s musical idea for the first shot, a stunning airy future of Los Angeles against the night sky.
“Honestly, my hair was gone,” Scott told the Post in 2017. “He was the soul of the movie.”
The “Blade Runner” score filled Scotch’s chaotic city with elegant, electric cord giant flowers, and Harrison joined Ford’s replica-killer with a sad ballad for saxophone and synthesizer. It became an example in style and influenced bands and film composers decades later.
Vangelis began her musical career in rock-and-roll, first as a songwriter and organizer for the first popular rock band Forminks in Greece, which she formed in high school. After the military coup in Greece in 1967, he moved to Paris and co-founded the progressive rock band Aphrodite’s Child, which released three successful albums, which together sold more than 20 million copies in Europe.
In a 1974 interview with Sounds Magazine, he described their ambitious album, “666”, as “very sophisticated for the group.” “I realized that I could no longer follow the commercial path; It was very annoying. “
The band split in 1974, and Vangelis moved to London to produce a solo album – including “Heaven and Hell”, “Spiral” and more avant-garde “Beauberg.” The band Yes invites him to join them when their keyboardist Rick Wakeman leaves, but Vangelis, as he told Keyboard Magazine in 1982, finds the group out of place.
He made several albums with the band’s lead vocalist John Anderson. Bill, as John and Vangelis, made two hit solo songs in England: “I Hear You Now” (1979) and “I Will Find My Way Home” (1981).
In music stores, the composer’s solo work was featured in a growing New Age genre with peers, including Mike Oldfield, Jean-Michel Jar, and Tangerine Dream. One of the main differences between Vangelis and his contemporaries was the melody.
Paul Haslinger, a one-time member of Tangerine Dream, told NPR in 2016, “Vangelis is a master of sweeping, melodic statements. Anything about music, you know how difficult it is. “
While others experimented with modular, gradual rhythms, Vangelis played his synthesizer like a church organ, soaking large melodies in a huge, artificial river to create a sense of sound in a cathedral. He also developed an arrangement that allowed him to play multiple synthesizer voices simultaneously – turning his keyboards into a complete orchestra – and usually recording pieces in one pass.
In 1975, he told Beat Instrumental, “If I play a left note, I will not record a single thing again.” He told Beat Instrumental in 1975. “Music is like love – it’s not good unless it’s honest and spontaneous.”
His music connected the sacred space to the outer space – a quality that made it a natural fit for the film, where many of his fellow “Cosmic Synth” artists moved. His first attempt was a French documentary and the 1970 film “Sex Power” and his album music provided the highest score for Carl Sagan’s 1980 PBS series “Cosmos”. In 1982, he scored “Missing”, the Oscar-nominated play by Konstantin Costa-Gavres with an American writer who went missing in Chile during the 1973 coup that brought the Pinochet government to power.
In 1992, Vangelis reunited with Scott for the Columbus epic “1492: Conquest of Heaven.” Its contagious music blends electronics, choirs and primitive instruments, and the soundtrack wins the European pop charts. His last big score was about Oliver Stone’s fictional “Alexander” (2004), about Alexander the Great, the Macedonian conqueror of the ancient world.
Outside of film, Vanzelis wrote two scores for the London Royal Ballet in the mid-1980s, and continued to make solo albums in the 1990s and 2000s. He provided music for high-profile special events, including the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games.
In 2001, he wrote a symphonic oratory to commemorate NASA’s mission to Mars, “Methodia” – a production staged at the ancient temple of Zeus in Athens and criticized in the Greek media for spending $ 7 million, half of which was provided by the state. Government In 2016, he released a now-retro synth album, “Rosetta”, inspired by the European Space Agency’s search mission of the same name.
“For me, science is more than the music industry,” Vangelis told NPR. “This is the main code of the universe.”
Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou was born on March 29, 1943, in Volos, Greece, and grew up in Athens. She told the Los Angeles Times that her father was “on the property” and “a great lover of music.” Vangelis started playing the piano at 4 but received very little formal training.
He soon began composing, and he experimented with the word “playing” in various water-filled kitchen utensils. She got her first Hammond organ as a teenager and painted it in gold.
After moving to London in 1974, he set up his own high-tech Nemo studio – named Captain Nemo from Jules Verne’s fantasy-adventure novel “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”. He also came to be known as Vangelis because, he told Sounds, it was “impossible to fit” into the hands of the Papathanasio record and difficult for English speakers to pronounce.
Vangelis has given a few interviews and revealed little personal information in them. After all, she had three serious romantic partners and no children. Survivors’ information was not immediately available.
Friends remembered him as a man’s fun-loving bear with a sincere appetite for cigars, wine and practical jokes.
Anderson, referring to his first meeting with Vangelis in Paris, told The Post: “When I went inside, he had a long bow and some arrows, which he fired into a very large hallway. The arrows went through a very large screen window. I explained that he could kill someone, and he just laughed, saying he was Greek. ‘Don’t worry, Johnny.’ “