You'll Know This Composer's Work in an Instant

Vangelis, who composed the 'Chariots of Fire' soundtrack, is dead at age 79
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2022 1:52 PM CDT

His name is Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou, but the Greek composer is better known as Vangelis. And if the latter still isn't familiar, his most famous work surely will be: Vangelis composed the soundtrack for the 1981 film Chariots of Fire. The composer—also celebrated for his Blade Runner soundtrack, has died at age 79, reports the BBC. Vangelis died in the hospital, though no cause of death was immediately specified. He "changed an entire era of music," tweets US composer Austin Wintory. Vangelis' Chariots of Fire theme rose to No. 1 on the US charts, and the Guardian notes that its "music became synonymous with slow-motion sporting montages."

Vangelis meshed orchestral music and electronic synth "to create a then-new sound for the film that seemed to provide the musical equivalent of the ocean waves that crashed as the story’s Olympic runners sprinted down the beach," is how Deadline describes it. Vangelis himself once put it this way: “My music does not try to evoke emotions like joy, love, or pain from the audience. It just goes with the image, because I work in the moment." Obituaries note that he was largely self-taught—and he once turned down an offer to play keyboards with Yes to focus instead on scoring films and TV shows. (More obituary stories.)

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