Greek “Chariots of Fire” composer Vangelis dies at age 79

Greek electronic composer Vangelis, who wrote the Academy Award-winning score for the film Chariots of Fire and dozens of other films, documentaries and television series music, died at the age of 79.

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 Papa Sanashiou is no longer in us,” Mitsutakis wrote on Twitter. He said the death of Vangelis was “sad news for the whole world.”

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.”

His great progress was brought about by 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.

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. Even though his streets became one of the most desirable pedestrian walkways in town, he never made dolls. 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, except that he was an avid painter.

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

Associated Press