Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou better known as Vangelis (the "g" is pronounced as a hard "g", as in "get") (born March 29, 1943) is a world-renowned new age and electronic musician. His best known compositions are the Academy Award-winning 1981 theme to the movie Chariots of Fire and the entire score to Blade Runner. He also composed the anthem of Football World Cup 2002.
Early life and work
Born in Volos, Greece, Vangelis began composing when he was 4 years old, and is largely a self-taught musician. He refused to take traditional piano lessons, and throughout his career he did not have substantial knowledge of reading or writing musical notation. He studied classical music, painting and film direction at the Academy of Fine Arts in Athens.
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." The group was disbanded in 1972, although Roussos made several appearances on Vangelis' later work.
Beginning of solo career
Vangelis began his solo work by writing scores to two films by French filmmaker Frederic Rossif in 1973. His first official solo album was 1974's Earth. At about the same time, he rehearsed for a couple of weeks with another prog-rock band, Yes. Although he never joined the band, 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. Music from the acclaimed 1975 album Heaven and Hell was later used as the theme to the BBC television series Cosmos.
Work in film and commercial success
He and Jon Anderson released several albums together in the 1980s and '90s as Jon & Vangelis. In 1982 Vangelis won the Academy Award for Original Music Score for Chariots of Fire. The theme song topped the US Billboard charts for one week after climbing steadily for one year.
That year he also began working with director Ridley Scott; Vangelis scored his films Blade Runner and 1492: Conquest of Paradise. He also scored many of the undersea documentaries of Jacques Cousteau. In 1992, France granted him the Chevalier Order of Arts and Letters.
The 2001 release Mythodea (orchestral rather than electronic) was originally written in 1993, and was used by NASA as the theme for the Mars missions. In 2004 he released a CD soundtrack of his score for Oliver Stone's film Alexanderhttp://www.alexandersoundtrack.com/, continuing his involvement with projects related to his homeland.
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