Self-taught, playing piano and composing music from the age of four, Vangelis spent his teenage years forming and fronting some of the now legendary experimental music groups of the 1960's. Solidly established as a solo artist by the early 1970's, he continued to expand and develop his experiments in modern electronic music. Today, recognized as a pioneer in the field, Vangelis' own spontaneous technique - allowing him to "capture, mix and take the music to its final execution without the influence of reasoning, the probability of alteration or the assistance of a computer" - remains unique among his peers - a method he refers to as "direct electronic intervention."
In Athens, Paris and London, throughout the 70's, 80's and 90's, Vangelis established his own state-of-the-art studio/laboratories, enabling him to further advance and develop his musical theories and sound. From Heaven and Hell, Albedo 0.39, Opera Sauvage and China, to Direct, The City, Oceanic, El Greco and the many albums in between - as always composed, arranged, performed and produced by him - Vangelis' fluidic fusion of acoustic and electronic instrumentation continued to grow in both its scope and worldwide acclaim. His collaborations with filmmakers Frederic Rossif (L'apocalypse des Animaux), Koreyoshi Kurahara (Antarctica), Costa-Gavras (Missing), Roman Polanski (Bitter Moon), Yannis Smaragdis (Cavafy), as well as with oceanographer Jacques Cousteau (We Cannot Permit) and astronomer Carl Sagan (Cosmos) further expanded the fusion by seamlessly combining his sound with their vision.
But it was Vangelis' soundtrack for Hugh Hudson's Chariots of Fire, followed by Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and 1492: Conquest of Paradise, that jet-propelled Vangelis to international stardom. Chariots of Fire was awarded the 1982 Academy Award (Oscar) for best soundtrack. 1492 was certified gold and platinum in over 17 countries, taking many awards along the way. And Blade Runner is now being called "one of the best films of the 20th century," while the soundtrack, according to critique on the World Wide Web, "has become as legendary as the film itself." The intense emotionalism he culled from his synthesizers for these scores and the poignancy they brought to the heart of these films proved once again Vangelis' innate mastery of technology and his uncanny ability to miraculously imbue that technology with a soul - this unique characteristic, perhaps above all, being the element of appeal that has kept him in such high esteem by so many for so long.
In the 1980's Vangelis composed the music for Michael Cacoyannis' staging of Electra in Epidaurus, Greece as well as Nuria Esper's staging of Medea in Spain, both productions featuring Irene Papas in the title roles. Later he composed the music for two plays featured in the repertoire of the Papas founded School of Scenic Arts: Euripides' The Trojan Women, staged in Valencia in 2001 and again in Rome in 2003 along with Hecuba - both plays directed by and starring Ms. Papas, with sets by Santiago Calatrava and costumes by Marina Karella. He also contributed original scores for the Royal Ballet's Frankenstein - Modern Prometheus and The Beauty and The Beast, each choreographed by Wayne Eagling and performed at London's Covent Garden. In 1999 he created the music for the unveiling of the 2004 Olympic emblem as well as the logo music that will accompany it whenever it is displayed.
While known mostly, of course, for his music, Vangelis is a visual artist as well. Spectacles conceived, staged and scored by Vangelis include the opening ceremonies for the 1997 IAAF Summer Games at Athens' Panathinaikon Marble Stadium (featuring Montserrat Caballe), Greece's handing over of the Olympic flame to Australia for the 2000 Sydney Games, Australia's handing over of the Olympic flag to Greece for the 2004 Athens Games and the 2001 presentation of his choral symphony Mythodea, performed at the Temple of Jupiter with Kathleen Battle, Jessye Norman, the London Metropolitan Orchestra and the National Opera Choir of Greece and later aired by public and commercial television stations around the world. Mythodea, both the CD (chosen by NASA to accompany its 2001 Mars Odyssey Mission) and concert, by utilizing a full symphony orchestra, marked yet another milestone in Vangelis' ever-expanding artistic journey.
Vangelis' enormous contributions to the worlds of art and science have not gone unnoticed. In addition to winning the Oscar, Echo, Golden Lion, Max Steiner, Apollo, IFPI and numerous other awards throughout his career, Vangelis has received the titles Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur of the French Republic. The International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory named a small planet "Vangelis" in his honor. His 2002 FIFA World Cup Anthem won the RIAJ's (Recording Industry of Japan) International Song of the Year Award. NASA presented him with their 2003 Public Service Medal, one of the highest honors the space agency confers to a non-government individual.
Universal Music Worldwide has recently released Odyssey: The Definitive Collection, a compilation CD containing some of Vangelis' most acclaimed tracks from 1973 to 2003. He is currently working on the soundtrack for Oliver Stone's soon to be released motion picture, Alexander, about the life of Alexander the Great.
Still in the prime of his creative life, still pushing the frontiers of musical and artistic discovery, one wonders what is yet to come from this remarkable man, this man known simply as Vangelis.
"... and each time I remember, I discover and I reveal something else."
- Vangelis -