Vangelis Papathanasiou (pronounced /van-GE-liss/, with a hard "g" as in "get") is a world-renowned new age and electronic composer and musician. He was born Evangelos Odyssea Papathanasiou on March 29, 1943 in Volos, Greece.
His best known compositions are the Academy Award-winning 1981 theme to the movie Chariots of Fire, the entire score to the movie Blade Runner and the themes used in the soundtrack of Carl Sagan's Cosmos. He also composed the anthem of Football World Cup 2002. A version of "Pulstar", from the album Albedo 0.39, was an early theme for ESPN's "SportsCenter" program and served as the news themes for WTVK and WNEV.
(1943-1960) Formative years
He began composing when 4 years old, and is largely a self-taught musician. He refused to take traditional piano lessons, and throughout his career did not have substantial knowledge of reading or writing musical notation. He studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Athens.
(1961-1972) Early works in bands
In the early 1960s he formed the pop group Forminx (sometimes spelled "Formynx"), which became very popular in Greece.
During the student riots in 1968 he moved to Paris and formed progressive rock band Aphrodite's Child with Demis Roussos and Loukas Sideras. They had a hit single in Europe called "Rain and Tears", and are considered pivotal in the development of progressive rock and concept albums, especially because of their ground-breaking composition 666 (album). In 1972 the group was disbanded, although Vangelis has since produced several albums and singles for Roussos as well as Roussos contributing vocals to the Blade Runner soundtrack.
(1973-1980) Beginning of solo career
In 1973, Vangelis began his solo work by writing scores to two films by French film maker Frédéric Rossif. His first official solo album was Earth, also recorded in 1973. At about the same time, he rehearsed for a couple of weeks with another prog-rock band, Yes. Although he never joined the band (they ended up hiring Patrick Moraz), he became friends with singer Jon Anderson, with whom he later worked on many occasions.
After moving to London, Vangelis signed a deal with RCA Records, set up his own studio, Nemo Studios, and began recording a string of well-regarded electronic albums, such as the acclaimed Heaven and Hell (1975), Spiral (1977) and China (1979). Vangelis' Heaven and Hell was later used as the theme to the PBS television series Cosmos by Carl Sagan. He also contributed as a producer and keyboard player to the recordings of Greek rock band Socrates Drank the Conium's album Phos, which was perhaps their most important release.
(1981-1999) Work in film and commercial success
In 1981 Vangelis wrote the score for Chariots of Fire. Though the electronic score might be considered, in hindsight, ill-suited to a period piece, it worked beyond anyone's expectations. The movie won a half-dozen awards, including Best Picture of the year. Vangelis himself won the Academy Award for Original Music Score. The opening theme of the film (appropriately titled "Titles" on the soundtrack) was released as a single in 1982, topping the Billboard chart for for one week after climbing steadily for over five months. Only one other instrumental track, 1985's "Miami Vice Theme" has topped that chart since.
Perhaps inspired by the success of "Chariots of Fire", in 1983, director Peter Weir used previously released Vangelis music in his film "The Year of Living Dangerously", most notably "L'enfant" from 1979's "Opera Sauvage."
In 1982 he began his collaberation with director Ridley Scott: Vangelis scored his Blade Runner (1982), and would later score 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992). He also scored many of the undersea documentaries of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Collaboration in 1981 and 1986 with Italian singer Milva, achieving a large success especially in Germany with the albums Ich hab'keine Angst an Geheimnisse. In 1992, France made him a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.
(2000-present) Later days
In 2001 he released Mythodea, an orchestral rather than electronic piece that was originally written in 1993, and used by the NASA as the theme for the Mars missions.
In 2004 he released Alexander, a CD soundtrack of his score for Oliver Stone's movie Alexander, continuing his involvement with projects related to his homeland.
- (1972) Fais Que Ton Reve Soit Plus Long Que La Nuit
- (1973) Earth
- (1975) Heaven and Hell
- (1976) Albedo 0.39
- (1977) Spiral
- (1978) Beaubourg
- (1979) China
- (1980) See You Later
- (1984) Soil Festivities
- (1985) Mask
- (1985) Invisible Connections
- (1988) Direct
- (1990) The City
- (1995) Voices
- (1996) Oceanic
- (1998) El Greco (commercial edition)
- (2001) Mythodea
- (1970) Sex Power - score
- (1973) L'Apocalypse des Animaux - score
- (1975) Ignacio - score for the Mexican film "No Oyes Ladrar Los Perros?"
- (1976) La Fete Sauvage - score
- (1979) Opera Sauvage - score
- (1981) Chariots of Fire - score of Chariots of Fire
- (1983) Antarctica - score
- (1992) 1492: Conquest of Paradise - score of 1492: Conquest of Paradise
- (1994) Blade Runner - score of Blade Runner (movie came out in 1982)
- (2004) Alexander - score of Alexander
Limited edition releases
- (1984) Silent Portraits- limited edition LP included in a book of portraits
- (1995) Foros Timis Ston Greco - limited museum edition of El Greco
- (2004) Ithaca - spoken word record of the Constantine Cavafy poem with Sean Connery - limited release
- (1979) Odes - with Irene Papas
- (1980) Short Stories - as Jon & Vangelis
- (1981) The Friends of Mr. Cairo - as Jon & Vangelis
- (1981) Ich Hab' Keine Angst - as Milva & Vangelis
- (1981) Moi, Je N'ai Pas Peur - as Milva & Vangelis (French version)
- (1983) Private Collection - as Jon & Vangelis
- (1986) Rhapsodies - with Irene Papas
- (1986) Geheimnisse - with Milva
- (1986) Tra Due Sogni - with Milva (Italian version)
- (1991) Page of Life - as Jon & Vangelis
- (1978) The Best of Vangelis
- (1982) To the Unknown Man
- (1985) Magic Moments
- (1984) The Best of Jon & Vangelis - as Jon & Vangelis
- (1989) Themes
- (1994) Chronicles - as Jon & Vangelis
- (1995) Mundo Magico De Vangelis
- (1995) Themes II
- (1996) Portraits (So Long Ago, So Clear)
- (1998) Mystera
- (1999) Mystera III
- (2001) The Best of Mystera
- (2000) Reprise 1990-1999
- (2003) Odyssey
- (1976) The Vangelis Radio Special [promo only]
EPs/Singles (with exclusive material)
- (1968) The Clock / Our Love Sleeps On The Water
- (1977) To The Unknown Man / To The Unknown Man 2
- (1979) The Long March / The Long March 2
- (1980) Don't Be Foolish / Doesn't Matter [Peter Marsh & Vangelis]
- (1980) My Love / Domestic Logic One
- (1983) And When The Night Comes / Song Is [Jon & Vangelis]
- (1991) Wisdom Chain (EP) [Jon & Vangelis]
- (1992) Conquest Of Paradise (EP)
- (1992) In London [Neuronium & Vangelis]
- (1996) Ask The Mountains (EP) [Vangelis with Stina Nordenstam]
- (1996) A Separate Affair (EP) [Neuronium & Vangelis] - remixes of 'In London'; remaster in 2002.
- (1997) March With Me / Like a Dream [Montserrat Caballe and Vangelis]
- (2001) Mythodea Special Edit
- (2002) Anthem - 2002 FIFA World Cup Official Anthem (EP) - many different editions exist.
- VangelisWorld.com - The official Vangelis website, which has been "under construction" since 1995.
- Vangelis.com - Another possible website, also "under construction" since 2000.
- Vangelis at the SoundtrackINFO project
- Elsew.com - Elsewhere - Privately owned frequently updated Vangelis website: bio, discog, interviews, etc.
- Vangelis Artist Profile with reviews of his major work.
- Instruments used by Vangelis (Blade Runner fansite)
- Alexander Soundtrack - Commercial Sony website, but with audio and video resources.
- Vangelis Collector - The most complete information on Vangelis' discography.
- The Greek Home of Vangelis - The Only Greek Vangelis Website
- Vangelis on the Internet
- a list of web links