Vangelis He will always be remembered as one of the most talented songwriters in history. The Greek-born musician has died at the age of 79, leaving behind some of the most epic soundtracks of all time. He grew up in Athens and his training was mostly self-taught, he formed his first band in 1963, with which he began to cover Beatles songs. Three years later, the group broke up, and that’s when he started working for other musicians and ca writing scores for Greek movies.
The Greek composer always considered that the world of commercial pop was “very boring“, and after briefly flirting with the genre, he returned to composing for film and television. He moved to London, and it was there that he began his career as a soundtrack composer. Throughout the 1970s and, above all, , in the 80s, signed some of the most important film music of all time. In them he imprinted a unique style, using synthesizers and acoustic instruments to create unique atmospheres in which to frame the images they accompanied.
Fire cars (1981)
It’s probably one of the most recognizable movie soundtracks in history, and it’s virtually impossible to listen to it without conjuring up images of slow-motion runners down a beach. The opening instrumental title sequence has become synonymous with the Olympics, appearing in the BBC’s coverage of this 1984 sporting competition. The Greek musician received an Oscar for the music of the film directed by Hugh Hudson, but was not to collect the prize. “My music does not try to evoke emotions such as joy, love or pain in the audience. It just goes with the image, because I work in the moment,” explained the musician about the soundtrack.
The composer also wrote the soundtrack for Ridley Scott’s sci-fi cult classic Blade Runner. It is made up of haunting electronic orchestral pieces, including the main theme, and in a departure from his usual style, it also includes a jazz number, One More Kiss. Despite high demand from fans, it took 12 years before the soundtrack was officially released after the premiere. It is famous for its evocation of a sinister future version of Los Angeles, where robots and humans live side by side. Saxophones and ambient passages enhance the film’s heartwarming and romantic moments. “It turned out to be a very prescient film: We now live in a kind of Blade Runner world,” Vangelis said in 2005.
Later in the decade he composed the music for Costa-Gavras’ Palme d’Or-winning political drama Missing, starring Jack Lemmon. The piano theme has been used repeatedly in commercials, however, the official album version of the film has not been released to date.
mutiny on board (1984)
Thanks to the great setting work of Vangelis, we were able to transport ourselves through his music to the 18th century. The music composed for the film starring Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins and Laurence Olivier, in which he took over from Lionel Hart, Herbert Stothart and Bronislau Kaper, composers of the previous film versions.
1492: The conquest of Paradise (1992)
This big-budget blockbuster from Ridley Scott told a historic account of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America, starring Gérard Depardieu and Sigourney Weaver. Hans Zimmer was originally asked to write the score, but eventually Ridley Scott offered Vangelis the job.
ice moons (1992)
The character of this Roman Polanski film, openly sexual and raunchy, gave Vangelis the chance to experiment with eclectic sounds and take his melodies to a place where we had never heard them before. A music full of chaos, but at the same time it was perfectly measured.
Alexander the Great (2004)
This historical drama about Alexander the Great featured an all-star cast including Angelina Jolie and Colin Farrell, and is director Oliver Stone’s most expensive film to date. The majestic score mixes acoustic and synthesized instruments. But there were a series of setbacks: It was nearly banned in Greece, Vangelis’s home country, for its portrayal of Alexander the Great’s bisexuality. Fortunately it ended up premiering in Greece.
El Greco (2007)
His most recent score was for El Greco, a 2007 Greek biopic of the Renaissance painter. The Greek artist, who moved to Spain and acquired his nickname there, was greatly admired by Vangelis, who composed albums in 1995 and 1998 inspired by him and bearing his name.
These are some of the pieces for the big screen that Vangelis composed. They are part of the legacy of one of the best composers in history.