|Who is it?||Soundtrack, Composer, Music Department|
|Birth Day||March 29, 1943|
|Birth Place||Volos, Greece, Greece|
|Age||77 YEARS OLD|
|Birth name||Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou|
|Genres||Electronic, progressive rock, classical, ambient|
|Occupation(s)||Composer, musician, record producer, arranger|
|Instruments||Piano, synthesizer, keyboards, Hammond organ, drums, percussion|
|Labels||Universal, RCA, Atlantic, Sony, Warner Bros., Polydor, Deutsche Grammophon|
|Associated acts||Aphrodite's Child, Jon & Vangelis, Demis Roussos|
When the teachers asked me to play something, I would pretend that I was reading it and play from memory. I didn't fool them, but I didn't care.
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 memories include playing piano, percussion, and music of his own device. Throughout his career, Vangelis did not have substantial knowledge of reading or writing musical notation. He rebuffed his parents' attempts to supplement his experimentation with formal training. Vangelis has called himself fortunate to not attend music school, which he considers a creative impediment. He studied painting, an art he still practices, at the Athens School of Fine Arts. Vangelis said in an interview with Life, when asked about his lack of ability to read music:
While still in Aphrodite's Child, Vangelis had already been involved in other projects. In the 1960s he scored music for three Greek films My Brother, the Traffic Policeman (1963) directed by Filippos Fylaktos, 5,000 Lies (1966) by Giorgos Konstantinou, To Prosopo tis Medousas (1967) by Nikos Koundouros. In 1970 composed the score for Sex-Power directed by Henry Chapier, as well again for Salut, Jerusalem (1972) and Amore (1974).
Around the time of the student riots in 1968, Vangelis founded progressive rock band Aphrodite's Child together with Demis Roussos, Loukas Sideras, and Anargyros "Silver" Koulouris. After an unsuccessful attempt to enter the UK, they found a home in Paris where they recorded their first single, a hit across much of Europe called "Rain and Tears". Other singles followed, including two albums, which, in total, sold over 20 million copies. The record sales led the record company to request a third album, and Vangelis went on to conceive the double-album 666, based on Revelation, the last book in the Bible. It is often listed as one of the best progressive rock albums. One of the many remarkable features of this album is Irene Papas's guest participation (vocal on "Infinity"). Tensions between members during the recording of 666 eventually caused the split of the band in 1971, but the album was still released in 1972. Despite the split, Vangelis has since produced several albums and singles for Demis Roussos, who, in turn, contributed vocals to the Blade Runner Soundtrack. He often recalls on music industry:
In 1971, some jam sessions with a group of Musicians in London had resulted in two albums' worth of material, unofficially released without Vangelis' permission in 1978, titled Hypothesis and The Dragon. Vangelis succeeded in taking legal action to have them withdrawn. A more successful project was his scoring of wildlife documentary films in the early 1970s made by French filmmaker Frédéric Rossif. The first Soundtrack L'Apocalypse des animaux was released in 1973. In 1972, the student riots of 1968 provided the inspiration for an album titled Fais que ton rêve soit plus long que la nuit (Make Your Dream Last Longer Than the Night), comprising musical passages mixed with news snippets and protest songs; some lyrics were based on graffiti daubed on walls during the riots. He also did music for the 1973 Henry Chapier film Amore.
In 1973 Vangelis' solo career began in earnest. His second solo album was Earth. It was a percussive-orientated album with Byzantine undertones. It featured a group of Musicians including ex-Aphrodite's Child Guitarist Silver Koulouris and also vocalist and Songwriter Robert Fitoussi (better known as F.R. David of "Words" fame). This line-up, later briefly going out under the name "Odyssey", released a single in 1974 titled "Who", but that was Vangelis' last involvement with them. Later in 1974, Vangelis was widely tipped to join another prog-rock band, Yes, following the departure of Rick Wakeman. After a couple of weeks of rehearsals Vangelis wavered on the option of joining Yes, and the band had to detour and hire Swiss keyboard player Patrick Moraz instead, who later joined the Moody Blues. Vangelis did, however, become friends with Yes' lead vocalist Jon Anderson, and later worked with him on several occasions, including as the duo Jon & Vangelis.
After moving to London in 1975, Vangelis signed with RCA Records, set up his own studio, Nemo Studios, and began recording a string of electronic albums, such as Heaven and Hell (1975), Albedo 0.39 (1976), Spiral (1977), Beaubourg (1978), and China (1979). The Heaven and Hell was premiered at The Royal Albert Hall. Each of the albums had special thematic inspiration; Heaven and Hell the homonymous mythological places, Albedo 0.39 the universe, Spiral the Tao philosophy, Beaubourg the visit to the Centre Georges Pompidou, while China the Chinese cultural and musical traditions.
Excerpts from other interviews mention that Vangelis has been married twice before. In a 1976 interview with Dutch music magazine Oor, the author wrote that Vangelis had a wife named Veronique Skawinska, a Photographer who had done some album art work for Vangelis. An interview in 1982 with Backstage music magazine suggests that Vangelis had previously been married to a singer named Vana Verouti, who had performed vocals on some of his records, performing for the first time with him on La Fête sauvage and later on Heaven and Hell.
In 1977 was re-released (originally released in 1975) the film score of Do You Hear the Dogs Barking? directed by François Reichenbach.
In the early 1980s he also began composing for ballet and theatre stage plays. In 1983 Vangelis wrote the music for Michael Cacoyannis' staging of the Greek tragedy Elektra which was performed with Irene Papas at the open-air amphitheater at Epidavros in Greece. The same year Vangelis composed his first score for a ballet by Wayne Eagling. It was originally performed by Lesley Colier and Wayne Eagling himself at an Amnesty International gala in Drury Lane, but in 1984 the Royal Ballet School presented it again at the Sadler's Wells theatre. In 1985 and 1986, Vangelis wrote music for two more ballets: "Frankenstein – Modern Prometheus" and "The Beauty and the Beast". In 1992, Vangelis wrote the music for the Euripides play, Medea, that featured Irene Papas. In 2001 composed for the third play which starred Papas, and for The Tempest by Hungarian Director György Schwajdas.
Vangelis also collaborated in 1981 and 1986 with Italian singer Milva, achieving success especially in Germany with the albums Ich hab' keine Angst and Geheimnisse (I have no fear and Secrets). The Italian language Nana Mouskouri album also featured her singing Vangelis composition "Ti Amerò". Collaboration numbers with lyricist Mikalis Bourboulis sung by Maria Farantouri included the tracks "Odi A", "San Elektra", and "Tora Xero".
In 1982, Vangelis collaborated with Director Ridley Scott, to write the score for the science fiction film Blade Runner. Critics have written that capturing the isolation and melancholy of Harrison Ford's character, Rick Deckard, the Vangelis score is as much a part of the dystopian environment as the decaying buildings and ever-present rain. The music score was nominated for a BAFTA and Golden Globe award.
The Sport Aid (1986) TV broadcast was set to music specially composed by Vangelis. He conceived and staged the ceremony of the 1997 World Championships in Athletics which were held in Greece. He also composed the music as well designed and directed the artistic Olympic flag relay portion, "Handover to Athens", of the closing ceremonies of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. While no official recording of Vangelis' composition for the 2000 Sydney Games exists, the music can be heard accompanying the presentation of the emblem of the 2004 Athens Games. In 2002, Vangelis created the official Anthem for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. His work from Chariots of Fire was heard during the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.
In 1989 he received the Max Steiner Award. France made Vangelis a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1992 and promoted him to Commander in 2017, as well Chevalier de la Legion d’ Honneur in 2001. In 1993 he received the 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.
In the 1990s were also released five solo albums; The City (1990) was recorded during his stay in Rome in 1989, and reflected a day of bustling city life, from dawn until dusk; Voices (1995) featured sensual songs filled with nocturnal orchestrations; Oceanic (1996) thematically explored the mystery of underwater worlds and sea sailing; two classical albums about El Greco - Foros Timis Ston Greco (1995), which had limited release, and El Greco (1998), which was an expansion of the former.
Vangelis wrote the film score for the 1992 film Bitter Moon directed by Roman Polanski, and The Plague by film Director Luis Puenzo. In the 90s, Vangelis scored a number of undersea documentaries for French ecologist and filmmaker, Jacques Cousteau, one of which was shown at the Earth Summit. The music score of the film Cavafy (1996) directed by Yannis Smaragdis, was awarded at the Flanders International Film Festival Ghent and Valencia International Film Festival
A disagreement led to Vangelis withholding permission for his performance of the music from Blade Runner to be released, and the studio instead hired a group of Musicians dubbed "The New American Orchestra" to record the official LP released at the time. It took 12 years before the disagreement was resolved and Vangelis's own work was released in the United States, in 1994. The Soundtrack was still incomplete, as the film contained some non-Vangelis tracks as well. Over the years a number of bootleg recordings of the Blade Runner Soundtrack from unknown sources have been released, mostly targeted to Collectors as "private releases", that contain most of the music cues (including the Ladd Company logo theme). An official three-disc box set was released in late 2007 to commemorate the film's 25th anniversary: it contained the original 1994 album, a second disc containing some more of the missing music cues and a third disc of new Vangelis material inspired by Blade Runner. The 2007 release still lacks some incidental music, most notably the background music from the Taffey Lewis bar scene featuring vocals by Demis Roussos. A 35th anniversary LP of the original Soundtrack was released on Record Store Day 2017.
In 2001, Vangelis performed live and released choral symphony Mythodea, a predominantly orchestral rather than electronic piece that was originally written in 1993, and used by NASA as the theme for the Mars Odyssey mission. In 2004, Vangelis released the score for Oliver Stone's Alexander, continuing his involvement with projects related to Greece.
It is not publicly known where Vangelis generally resides; he has stated that he "travels around", rather than settling down in one specific place or country for long periods of time. As a hobby, Vangelis enjoys painting; his first art exhibition of 70 paintings was held at Almudin in Valencia, Spain in 2003 and then toured South America until the end of 2004.
For an Artist of his stature, very little is known about Vangelis' personal life and he rarely gives official interviews to journalists. However, in a 2005 interview with The Daily Telegraph, Vangelis talked openly about various parts of his life. He stated in the interview that he was "never interested" in the "decadent lifestyle" of his band days, choosing not to use alcohol or other drugs. At the time of the Telegraph interview, Vangelis was involved in his third long-term relationship. When asked why he had not had children, Vangelis replied:
On 11 December 2011, Vangelis was invited by Katara's Cultural Village in the state of Qatar to conceive, design, direct, and compose music for the opening of its world-class outdoor amphitheater. The event was witnessed by a number of world Leaders and dignitaries participating in the 4th Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations held in the city of Doha. British actor Jeremy Irons performed in the role of ceremony master, and the event featured a light show by German Artist Gert Hof. It was filmed for a Future video release by Oscar-winning British filmmaker Hugh Hudson.
In 2012, Vangelis re-tooled and added new pieces to his iconic Chariots of Fire Soundtrack, for use in the same-titled stage adaptation. He composed the Soundtrack of the environmental documentary film Trashed (2012) directed by Candida Brady, in which starred Jeremy Irons, as well scored the music for the film Twilight of Shadows (2014) directed by Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina. In 2013 was released documentary film Vangelis And The Journey to Ithaka.
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.
For the 12 November 2014 landing of the Philae lander on Comet 67P (part of the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission), Vangelis composed three short pieces titled "Arrival", "Rosetta's Waltz", and "Philae's Journey". The pieces were released online as videos accompanied by images and animations from the Rosetta mission. He was quoted by ESA as saying, "Mythology, science and space exploration are subjects that have fascinated me since my early childhood. And they were always connected somehow with the music I write". In September 2016, the works were released as part of the new studio album Rosetta.