Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou, known throughout the world as Vangelis has been dubbed the great composer of Symphonic Electronica.
Probably best known for his Academy Award‐winning score for the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire, Vangelis’ music has inspired whole generations of digital artists from musicians to filmmakers and more. In fact, when the score for the sequel to another of Vangelis’ iconic film scores, Blade Runner (1982), came rolling around for Blade Runner 2049 (2017), he was firstly considered for the job. Vangelis declined and the job fell to another great composer of traditional and digital music, Hans Zimmer. Zimmer cited several times that Vangelis’ music would be a huge influence in the sequel’s score.
The reason that he is a Progressive Pioneer is that his music not only pioneers symphonic electronica but transcends it to all mediums (film, television, theater, sports, etc.).
Born in 1943 in a coastal town in Thessaly Greece, later raised in Athens, Vangelis began composing music since the age of four! However, it is the way that he began composing music which would define his later digital‐electronica aural accomplishments: by experimenting with sounds, such as placing nails and kitchen pans inside their family piano, and with radio interference.
He made music from a sea of unique sources ranging from synthesizers, sitars, harps, finger cymbals, orchestral instruments, and choirs to name a few.
From there his decades‐long‐spanning career has been an epic adventure of artistic supremacy. Some highlights are:
- 1963–1974, Vangelis performed in several rock bands, and began scoring music for Greek film and television projects. He was even invited to join the famed progressive rock band YES.
- During the 1970s–1980s, Vangelis moved to London, England and secured a lucrative record deal with RCA Records. After the release of his seminal work, the album Heaven and Hell, he performed to sold out appearances at the Royal Albert Hall.
- And from the early 1980s to the 2000s, his greatest claims to fame are his work on film, television, and other soundtracks, such as: Chariots of Fire, Blade Runner, Antarctica, 1942: Conquest of Paradise, Frankenstein – Modern Prometheus and The Beauty and the Beast (both stage plays), the closing music to the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney (titled Handover to Athens), music to commemorate NASA’s Mars Odyssey mission (Mythodea), same for the ESA’s Rosetta mission for the Philae Lander to Comet 67P, and so much more!
His accolades are too numerous to list but here are some highlights:
- Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (France, 1992)
- Planet 6354 Vangelis is named after him (1995)
- Public Service Medal (NASA, 2003)
- AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award (American Hellenic Institute, 2008)
- Honorary Doctorate degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering (University of Thessaly, 2018)
- And finally, The American Film Institute nominated Vangelis’ scores for Blade Runner and Chariots of Fire for their list of the 25 greatest film scores.
No matter what generation you are a part of, you have heard this man’s angelic and esoteric Progressive Pioneering Music that sparked a whole revolution in film scores…and so much more!
Listen to some of Vangelis’ Greatest Hits Here!
Listen to Hans Zimmer’s Vangelis-inspired music for Blade Runner 2049.
Digital Batman’s Note: I grew up listening to this man’s music. I must have at least half a dozen or more of his albums (CDs).
From the first time I listened to the music while watching Carl Sagan’s COSMOS when I was a kid, to Blade Runner, to 1492: Conquest of Paradise, and more, I have been inspired by his works.
This is no better writing music for me than listening to movie soundtracks, and Vangelis’ is some of the most motivating and energizing music that there is!