29 March 1943
Βόλος, Magnisia, Thessalia, Greece
17 May 2022 (aged 79)
Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou (March 29, 1943 - May 17, 2022), known professionally as Vangelis, was a Greek composer of electronic, progressive, ambient, new age, jazz, and orchestral music. He is best known for his Academy Award-winning score for the film Chariots of Fire, composing scores for the films Blade Runner, Missing, Antarctica, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, and Alexander, and the use of his music in the PBS documentary Cosmos: A Personal Voyage by Carl Sagan.
After having taken piano lessons, Vangelis began his professional musical career working with several popular bands of the 1960s such as the Forminx and Aphrodite's Child, with the latter's album 666 going on to be recognized as a psychedelic classic. Throughout the 1970s, Vangelis composed music scores for several animal documentaries, including L'Apocalypse des Animaux, La Fête sauvage and Opéra sauvage; the success of these scores brought him into the film scoring mainstream. In the early 1980s, Vangelis formed a musical partnership with Jon Anderson, the lead singer of progressive rock band Yes, and the duo went on to release several albums together as Jon & Vangelis.
In 1981, he composed the score for the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. The soundtrack's single, the film's "Titles" theme, also reached the top of the American Billboard Hot 100 chart and was used as the background music at the London 2012 Olympics winners' medal presentation ceremonies. Vangelis also received acclaim for his synthesizer-based soundtrack for the 1982 film Blade Runner.
Having had a career in music spanning over 70 years and having composed and performed more than 50 albums, Vangelis is considered to be one of the most important figures in the history of electronic music.
Vangelis was born 29 March 1943, in Agria, near Volos, Greece. Largely a self-taught musician, he reportedly began composing at the age of three. His earliest memory is "playing piano, some percussion and whatever else that was available that made a noise. Right from the start, I was only interested in playing my own music". He refused to take traditional piano lessons, and throughout his career did not have substantial knowledge of reading or writing musical notation. When he was six, Vangelis's parents enrolled him at a specialist music school in Athens. He recalls "I was lucky not to go because music schools close doors rather than open them". He studied painting, an art he still practices, at the Athens School of Fine Arts.
In 1989 received Max Steiner Award. France made Vangelis a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1992 and promoted to Commander in 2017, as well Chevalier de la Legion d’ Honneur in 2001. In 1993 received music award Apollo by Friends of the Athens National Opera Society. In 1995, Vangelis had a minor planet named after him (6354 Vangelis) by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center (MPC) at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; the name was proposed by the MPC's co-director, Gareth V. Williams, rather than by the object's original discoverer, Eugène Joseph Delporte, who died in 1955, long before the 1934 discovery could be confirmed by observations made in 1990. In 1996 and 1997 was awarded at World Music Awards.
NASA conferred their Public Service Medal to Vangelis in 2003. The award is the highest honour the space agency presents to an individual not involved with the American government. Five years later, in 2008, the board of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens voted to make Vangelis an Honorary Doctor, making him Professor Emeritus at their Faculty of Primary Education. In June 2008, the American Hellenic Institute honoured Vangelis with an AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his "exceptional artistic achievements" as a pioneer in electronic music and for his lifelong dedication to the promotion of Hellenism through the arts. On 16 September 2013, he received the honour of appearing on the Greek 80 cent postage stamp, as part of a series of six distinguished living personalities of the Greek Diaspora.
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