With immense Love and Pride, we escort our own Vangelis Papathanassiou, the International Musical Genius, to his last journey has left this dimension…
Evangelos Odysseus Papathanassiou, this name has a great meaning in the Greek language. The etymology is as follows: the prefix “EY” means “very good” and “Angelos” is “the one who brings a good announcement”, therefore also “angel”. And his second name, Odysseus, is the voyager who has been “traveling” with us on his ship of music along the journey towards existence.
It is widely known and proven that Vangelis was a great human and with his work, he uplifted human beings by means of his music. He was awarded an Oscar in 1982 for his music in the film “Chariots of Fire”. The Film highlights the attempt of 3 British runners in the Olympics of 1924 in Paris. A great piece of music!
Vangelis (as he is called internationally) was born on 29th March 1943 at Agria of Volos, Greece. He started composing at the age of 4. He was considered a wonder boy and gave his first public performance at the age of six playing his own syntheses on the piano, having basically almost no musical education, in conventional terms, because obviously, the boy placed his education a priori. He was self-educated, though his parents were pushing him to study music. He never had a dream of being a piano soloist but always had the desire to play his own music. However, he studied classical music, painting, and film directing at the Athens Academy of Good Arts.
In the early ’60s as a part of the Fornix musical band, he takes his first steps writing the song Jeronimo Yanka (even today we dance this one at parties) which became a great success as a 45 album and became gold within its first week of circulation. In ’68 he moved to Paris with the other internationally known Greek singer, Demis Roussos. and they together created the band “Aphrodite’s Child”. They had a successful double album under the title 666, which was the beginning of an international career. In 1970 he wrote music for the film Henry Happier and on 1973 he started successful cooperation with film director Frederic Rossif for a series of wild nature documentaries a while before going to London, he circulated his solo album “Earth”.
In 1978 he cooperated with the International Greek actress Eirini Pappa in the album “Odes” with exceptional Greek Traditional songs and in ’86 they collaborated again in the album “Rhapsodies”.
His syntheses for cinema movies
Except for the historical Chariots of Fire, awarded with the Oscar in ’82 he also “dressed” many films with his music.
Music for Space
He was always fascinated with space exploration since his early childhood as he himself had revealed. A great part of his work is dedicated to this. Therefore big space foundations entrusted him to compose music for their successes: 1980, an American series of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage of Carl Sagan, with the main topic of humans in space and the existence of extraterrestrial life. This music was composed by Vangelis while the series got the Emmy award and was shown in 69 countries to 500 million people.
In the Summer of 2001, Vangelis presented his play Mythodia in the Pillars of Olympius Zeus. This music has accompanied the journey in Mars: Odyssey in Mars. This was a spectacular musical performance with special visual effects in which appeared all Ancient Greek Gods and Nasa’s space images. This play was shown all over the planet via giant screens and in Panathinaikon Stadium in Athens. After the completion of this great performance, the Minister of Education of the French government decorated him with the Legion of Honor in a great ceremony at Zappeion Mansion. Two years later Nasa gave him the medal of public contribution in recognition of an outstanding contribution to its vision. The prize is the highest price by an American non-governmental organization.
In 2013, NASA adopted Papathanassiou’s music for the second time with an original piece of music created to frame the video from the Hera (Juno) mission, which depicts the movement of the Earth and the moon together for the first time. The video was captured during the Journey to Jupiter.
In 1995, as a tribute to his musical contribution but also to his love of space, the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union named the Main Belt Asteroid 6354 after the composer, now called 6354 Vangelis.
Awards and distinctions
He won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1982 for the music in the film Roads of Fire, the Golden Lion at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, for the music Ask the Mountains in a TV commercial, the Max Steiner Award in 1989, for composition and presentation of distinguished cinematic music, the Echo Award (Germany) as International Artist of the Year 1992, the Award of the Flanders International Film Festival (Belgium), the Valencia International Film Festival Award, the Audience Award, and the Apollo Award in 1993 for his contribution to music from the Society of Friends of the National Opera.
He is the mentor and forerunner of many different musical genres while he is considered the master of electronic music (progressive, ambient, jazz, and orchestral music, among others.
Last Tuesday, May 17th this great man left this life and entered another lighter dimension.
Farewell dear Vangelis, we will bear you and your music in our hearts forever.