Composer behind ‘Chariots of Fire’ soundtrack, Vangelis, dies at age 79

The worlds of both cinema and music were in mourning this week after learning that award-winning composer Vangelis, the genius behind the haunting soundtrack for the 1981 film Chariots of Fire died in Paris Tuesday at the age of 79, as the Washington Examiner reports.

Vangelis was born in Greece and began his musical career in Athens as a member of a band called the Forminx, before ultimately settling in Paris where he lived for most of his life.

Labeling the trajectory of pop music in the 70s and 80s as “too boring,” the U.K. Guardian noted, Vangelis switched gears somewhat and focused primarily on creating the film and television scores that brought him great notoriety.

The famed musical visionary was perhaps best known for his work on the aforementioned English cinematic classic, for which he earned the 1982 Best Original Score Oscar, but he was also lauded for his contributions to the Blade Runner soundtrack the very next year.

In addition to his heralded work in film, Vangelis also enjoyed success as an innovative electronic solo artist, achieving two U.K. Top ten hits together with YES bandleader Jon Anderson, according to the BBC.

“Making music with Vangelis was always a simple pleasure, and then it became very successful,” Anderson said, according to the Guardian, adding, “[i]t was very spontaneous and very joyful.”

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, prime minister of Greece was among the notable figures moved by this week’s sad news, tweeting, “Vangelis Papathanassiou is no longer with us. The world of music has lost the international (artist) Vangelis.”

Composer Bear McCreary also paid tribute to his late colleague, calling him a “true musical pioneer” and opining that Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner were among the most innovative and influential scores in the history of the medium.”

The most recent releases from Vangelis came from the Decca Records label, and the company’s presidents, Tom Lewis and Laura Monks, expressed the sadness so many share in response to the composer’s death, saying, “The world has lost a genius. Vangelis created music of extraordinary originality and power, and provided the soundtrack to so many of our lives.”