Oscar-winning composer Vangelis passes away at the age of 79


Vangelis Papathanassiou, better known to international audiences simply as Vangelis, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 79.

The Academy Award winner died Tuesday at a hospital in France, where he was being treated for COVID-19, a law firm representing Vangelis told the Greek newspaper OT.

“It is with great sadness that we announce that the great Greek Vangelis Papathanassiou passed away late on the night of Tuesday, May 17,” Vangelis’s lawyer was quoted as saying by the ANA news agency.

Over his more than 50-year career, Vangelis was renowned for his musical experimentation and eclectic influences. He won an Oscar in 1982 for his theme for the British film Chariots of Fire and went on to develop the scores for a slew of other movies, including Ridley Scott’s cult classic Blade Runner, as well as for theatre and ballet.

“Vangelis Papathanassiou is no longer with us,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted.



Vangelis began his career in the 1960s with several pop groups such as The Forminx and Aphrodite’s Child, whose album 666 (1972) was recognized as a progressive psychedelic rock classic. In the 1970s, Vangelis composed the scores for several animal documentaries, including L’Apocalypse des Animaux, La Fête sauvage and Opéra sauvage; the success of these scores propelled him into the mainstream of film music. In the early 1980s, Vangelis formed a musical partnership with Jon Anderson, frontman of the progressive rock band Yes, and the two released multiple albums together under the name Jon & Vangelis.

In 1980, he composed the score for the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Original Score. The single from the film’s theme soundtrack also topped the US Billboard Hot 100 and was used as the background music for the 2012 London Olympics awards ceremony.

With a music career spanning over 50 years, writing and performing over 50 albums, Vangelis is considered one of the most important figures in the history of electronic music.

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