Legendary composer Vangelis dies

Musician's work carried him from the silver screen to other planets

by Jennie Kermode

Vangelis Photo: Ian Patterson, licenced under Creative Commons

From Chariots Of Fire to Blade Runner, some of the most celebrated scores of the past century were created by one man: Greek composer Vangelis, who died on Tuesday from heart failure, at the age of 79. His passing was announced today by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Vangelis' other famous scores include those he wrote for Mel Gibson hit The Bounty, Roman Polanski's Bitter Moon, Ridley Scott's 1492: Conquest Of Paradise and Oliver Stone's Alexander. He worked extensively on short films, which gave him a lot of freedom to experiment. He also enjoyed popular success in his native country with band The Forminx before going on to form Aphrodite's Child, which released several albums widely acclaimed for pushing musical boundaries. Later in his career he worked as a solo artist and also engaged in numerous collaborations. He was known for his love of unusual instruments and capturing sounds which he could then extend and explore using a synthesiser.

Alongside albums and film scores, Vangelis composed the music which NASA used for its Mars Odyssey and Juno missions, and composed a piece for Stephen Hawking's funeral which ESA beamed into a black hole. He also enjoyed some success as a painter. He experimented continually throughout his life and continued to work right up until his death.

Within the film industry, Vangelis enjoyed a reputation for creative enthusiasm and being easy to work with. He was known for his warm sense of humour and love of philosophical conversations.

"Fascinated by music and its connections to science, he was a good friend of ESA and the space community," said ESA.

"We will all remember your unique touch and your moving melodies forever," said Jean-Michel Jarre.

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