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GreeceCultureOscar-winning composer Vangelis Papathanassiou dies in Paris at age 79

Oscar-winning composer Vangelis Papathanassiou dies in Paris at age 79

Hellenic News of America
Hellenic News of America
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Internationally acclaimed Greek composer Vangelis Papathanassiou, known globally as Vangelis, has died in Paris, a law firm representing the artist has announced.

Vangelis was born near the city of Volos in Greece in 1943, and he started composing music at the age of 4, giving his first public performance at the age of 6. Vangelis began his music career as a self-taught artist, but he later studied classical music, painting and film directing at the Fine Arts Academy in Athens.

He formed his first group, ‘Forminx’, in 1960. After moving to Paris in 1968 he formed the group ‘Aphrodite’s Child’ with another artist that was also destined to become an international star, Demis Roussos.

In 1975 Vangelis moved to London, where he set up the cutting-edge ‘Nemo’ studios, and a little later released his first music collection ‘Heaven & Hell’.
Film soundtracks were a big part of Vangelis’ prolific career, winning him an Oscars Academy Award in 1982 for Hugh Hudson’s ‘Chariots of Fire’. He also scored the soundtracks for Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’ (1982), Roman Polanski’s ‘Bitter Moon’ (1992), and Oliver Stone’s ‘Alexander’ (2004), among many others.

Vangelis also composed music for NASA’s space missions, in 2001 and again in 2013. He was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Public Service Medal in 2003, and the title of Knight of the Order of Honor (Ordre National de la Légion d’honneur) of the French Republic in 2001.

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Tributes to composer Vangelis (Papathanassiou), who died in Paris aged 79, started coming in from the Greek political world as the news of the internationally acclaimed composer’s death made top story in the local media.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called Vangelis “a pioneer of electronic sound, of Mythodia (his music for NASA), Oscars and great successes.” In a statement, he said Greeks remembered him also from the group Aphrodite’s Child, and “has set off on his great voyage” from where he will always “send us his music.”

Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni called Vangelis “ecumenical” in a statement and said his music moved people of different backgrounds, nationalities, and cultures. “Like an Odysseus – his second given name – he started off from Greece with the groups Forminx and Aphrodite’s Child and travelled through the entire planet with his compositions.” Vangelis linked his work with great successes in film, with international sports events including the Olympic Games, and provided the music for a mission of NASA, which named an asteroid after him.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias called him in a tweet “a distinguished Greek composer who became internationally prominent,” and thanked him for what he contributed to music, culture, and Greece.

“There are few who can add the name ‘global’ next to their names, and Vangelis Papathanassiou was a Global Greek,” SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras said in a message on Vangelis’ death. “A pioneer of electronic music, but one always remaining in touch with the roots of musical tradition. His is a massive loss and yet at the same time a presence beyond space and time.”

Syriza culture spokesperson Sia Anagnostopoulou said that Vangelis “embodied the model of ecumenical hellenism,” and called him “innovative, radical in the form and content of musical composition, and conversant with revolutionary sounds and images in the wake” of 1968. His work, she said, “travelled to space and at the same time allowed millions of people everywhere on the planet to accompany him.”
Vangelis was a great musical genius, an outstanding artist and a global Greek,” PASOK-Movement for Change leader Nikos Androulakis said. “His Oscar-winning music will always keep us company,” he added.

Calling him “a charismatic creator,” the Communist Party said that Vangelis “brought together in his composition traditional Greek songs, sounds of rock, the endless search for new forms of musical expression and enthusiasm for space exploration, which inspired him through the ages.” His work, honored with many awards and recognitions, “signified humanity’s eternal effort to exceed its limitations,” the party added.

Greek Solution leader Kyriakos Velopoullos said that Vangelis’ work “added honor to Greece and spoke to people’s souls.” His music will accompany the newer generations in all countries of the world, he added.


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