SBS Greek

Vangelis: The melody of the universe

SBS Greek

Famous Greek Composer Vangelis

Famous Greek Composer Vangelis Source: Supplied


Published 20 May 2022 at 2:40pm
By Emma Papaemmanouel
Source: SBS

Leading Greek composer Vangelis Papathanassiou (Vangelis), now travels to the heavens, along with his music, which became the soundtrack of famous NASA missions, television productions and movies.


Published 20 May 2022 at 2:40pm
By Emma Papaemmanouel
Source: SBS


Vangelis, as it was common for everyone to know him by his first name, was born on March 29, 1943 in Agria, Volos and passed away late on Tuesday night, May 17, while being treated in Paris with coronavirus complications, at the age of 79.

He was a child prodigy, who could perceive the melody in every pulse. Without any music education he started composing when he was only four years old. He gave his first public appearance at the age of six, self-taught. Under pressure from parents and teachers, he studied classical music, painting and directing at the Academy of Fine Arts in Athens.

In the early 1960s Vangelis Papathanassiou participated in the band Forminx and their song Jeronimo Yanka became a gold album, already from the first week of its release. It's a song that millions of people around the world have danced to. Somewhere, sometime, surely you too.

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In 1968 he moved to Paris and together with the Greek artist Demis Roussos they formed the band Aphrodite's Child, from which Vangelis left in 1975, to move to London this time. There he created the state-of-the-art music recording facilities Nemo studios and released his first album entitled Heaven and Hell. On the album "Odes" in 1978 he collaborated with Irini Pappas and in 1986 again on the album "Rhapsodies".

But the creations that launched the fame of Vangelis Papathanassiou into space, were the music soundtracks of famous international television and film productions. First in 1980 with the music of the American television series "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage" by Carl Sagan and a year later he created the top soundtrack of the film "Chariots of Fire", which won the Oscar for Best Original Score. 



1982 is an extremely creative year for Vangelis Papathanassiou as he writes the music for Ridley Scott's sci-fi movie Blade Runner, which influenced an era. In the same year he created the audio signal of ERT news, which continues to be aired to this day.

Ten years later he worked in the film "1492: Christopher Columbus" and won the Echo Awards and the Golden Lion, wrote the music for "Bitter Moon", 1992) by Roman Polanski, followed by the soundtracks for films "Cavafy" (1996) by Giannis Smaragdis, "Alexander" (2004) by Oliver Stone and "El Greco" (2007) again by Giannis Smaragdis.

The melody compination of Greek Mythology and the universe

The universe occupied Vangelis mind from a very young age. In the summer of 2001, Papathanassiou presented the play "Mythodia" on the pillars of Olympian Zeus in Athens, a musical work he created to accompany NASA's "2001: Odyssey to Mars" space mission. It was a unique, spectacular musical performance, with special visual effects that combined gods of ancient Greece and space images of NASA.

In 2013, NASA again asked Vangelis Papathanassiou to create music for the mission "Juno", while in 2014 the European Space Agency (ESA) commissioned him to compose the musical trilogy "Arrival", "Philae's journey" And "Rosetta's Waltz".



As a tribute to his musical contribution but also to his love for space, the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union named after the great Greek composer Asteroid 6354 "Vangelis", in 1995. Now Vangelis Papathanassiou travels to the universe he loved so much and recorded his melodic pulses. His heavenly music will always travel with us in eternity, like all great creations.




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