Vangelis Papathanasiou

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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

On March 29, 1943, Evangelos Odyssea Papathanasiou was born in Volos, Greece.

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, Loukas Sideras and Anargyros "Silver" Koulouris. 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.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Vangelis and Jon Anderson released several albums together as Jon & Vangelis. Their biggest hits were "I hear you now" and "I'll find my way home".

(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.

Vangelis died on May 17, 2022 in Paris while being in hospital with COVID-19. He is buried in Paris.


Studio albums

  • (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

Soundtrack albums

  • (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

Collaboration albums

  • (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

Compilation albums

  • (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

Promotional albums

  • (1976) The Vangelis Radio Special [promo only]

Bootleg albums

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.

External links

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