Vangelis (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 Odysseas Papathanassiou (/evan-ge-loss odee-say-ass papa-thana-see-ou/) on March 29, 1943 in Volos, Greece.
His best known compositions are the Academy Award-winning 1981 theme to the movie Chariots of Fire and the entire score to the movie Blade Runner. He also composed the anthem of Football World Cup 2002.
(1943-1960) Formative years
In 1943, Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou [in Greek: Ευάγγελος Οδυσσέας Παπαθανασίου / Eyáġġelos Oḏysséas Papaṯanasíoy (Evángelos Odhiséas Papathanasíu)] 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 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 (Revelation 13:18). In 1972 the group was disbanded, although Roussos made several appearances on Vangelis' later work.
(1973-1980) Beginning of solo career
In 1973, Vangelis began his solo work by writing scores to two films by French filmmaker Frederic 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 1975 album Heaven and Hell (not the 1980 album Heaven and Hell by Black Sabbath), 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'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; the movie won a half-dozen of awards, including the 1982 Academy Award for Original Music Score to Vangelis. The theme song topped the US Billboard charts for one week after climbing steadily for one year.
In 1982 he began working 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. In 1992, France made him a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.
During the 1980s and '90s, Vangelis and Jon Anderson released several albums together as Jon & Vangelis.
(2000- . . . .) 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.
Album cover of China (1979)
Album cover of Chariots of Fire (1981)
Album cover of 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)
Blade Runner (1994)
French Album cover of Alexander (2004)
- (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 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
- (1983) Private Collection - as Jon & Vangelis
- (1986) Rhapsodies - with Irene Papas
- (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)
- (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.
Mythodea 'Movement 5' from the choral symphony "Mythodea" (2001) Quicktime Movie (35 MB)