Vangelis dead: Greek PM leads tribute to Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner composer

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It remains one of the most iconic and instantly recognisable piece of film music (or any music) to this day. The moment those undulating synths kick in, and then the horns and piano, you are instantly transported to images of men is white vests and shorts slo-mo running. The film and soundtrack came out over 40 years ago but made Vangelis, real name Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou, an instant sensation. So much so, that the prime minister of Greece himself broke the news of his loss to the world.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted:”Vangelis Papathanassiou is no longer among us. The world of music has lost the international (artist) Vangelis, the creator of electro music who won two Oscars.

“We Greeks know that his second name was Odysseus, which means he started his great voyage on the avenues of fire and from there he was always sending to us his music.”

The latest reports indicate the composer died while he was being treated for COVID-19 in a French hospital.

The score to Chariots of Fire was composed in 1980 and became a global sensation, topping the US album charts for four weeks and selling three million copies in its first year.

Despite being a hot favourite for the Oscars, Vangelis refused to travel to the US, partly due to a fear of flying. He could not even be tempted to make the crossing on the QE2 in a lavish stateroom. He even modestly once referred to the soundtrack as “only another piece of music.”

In 1981, he also worked on the iconic soundtrack to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. A series of disputes led to Vangelis withholding permission for the score to be commercially released on its own. It wasn’t until 1992 that fans could hear a substantial amount of the eerily beautiful soundtrack in a complete release.

The same year, Vangelis reunited with Scott to score 1492: Conquest of Paradise, and also Roman Polanski’s Bitter Moon.

In the succeeding decades, the composer would write the music for theatre and ballet, as well as continuing a successful recording career or original music.

More recently, Vangelis became associated with scientific explorations of space. He composed music to accompany the November 12, 2014, landing of the Philae lander on Comet 67P, which was part of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission. He also wrote a score for Stephen Hawkings’ memorial at Westminster Abbey in 2018.

Hia final release was 2021’s album Juno to Jupiter, which was inspired by the mission of the NASA space probe Juno.

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