‘Chariots of Fire’ and ‘Blade Runner’ composer Vangelis dies aged 79
“Blade Runner” and “Chariots of Fire” composer Vangelis, the Oscar-winning electronic music pioneer whose distinctive musical style defined a generation of film soundtracks, has died aged 79, Greece’s prime minister said on May 19.
According to several Greek media outlets, Vangelis died of the coronavirus in France where he lived part-time, as well as in London and Athens.
“Vangelis Papathanassiou is no longer with us,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted. “The world of music has lost the international (artist) Vangelis.”
“It is with great sadness that we announce that the great Greek Vangelis Papathanassiou passed away late on the night of Tuesday, May 17,” his lawyer was quoted as saying by the ANA news agency.
Vangelis’s “Chariots of Fire” theme in 1982 won him an Academy Award for best original score, beating John Williams’ music for the first Indiana Jones film.
It reached the top of the U.S. billboard chart and was an enduring hit in Britain, where it was used during the London 2012 Olympics medal presentation ceremonies.
Vangelis’s work on over a dozen soundtracks included Costa-Gavras’ “Missing”, “Antarctica”, “The Bounty”, “1492: Conquest of Paradise”, Roman Polanski’s “Bitter Moon” and the Oliver Stone epic “Alexander”.
He also wrote music for theatre and ballet, as well as the anthem of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
Vangelis was a child prodigy who performed his first piano concert at the age of six, despite never having taken formal lessons.
In a 2019 interview with the Los Angeles Times, the composer said he saw parallels with the dystopian world depicted in “Blade Runner.”
“When I saw some footage, I understood that this is the future. Not a nice future, of course. But this is where we’re going,” he said.
He was showered with honors, receiving the Max Steiner film music award, France’s Legion d’Honneur, NASA’s Public Service Medal and Greece’s top honour, the Order of the Phoenix.
In later years, Vangelis moved between homes in Paris, London and Athens, carefully guarding his privacy with little known of his personal life.
“I don’t give interviews, because I have to try to say things that I don’t need to say,” he told the LA Times in 2019.
“The only thing I need to do is just to make music.”