Vangelis has been one of the most acclaimed electronic musicians of all time. He has recorded a great variety of music over the last thirty years, won the academy award for musical score, composed hit songs, and written the scores for several ballets. Vangelis is best known for his music that was featured in the television show Cosmos, and his scores to movies. His scores include Chariots of Fire, The Bounty, and Blade Runner. His music is very melodic, drawing on the melodies of folk music, especially the Greek music of his homeland.
Vangelis has a unique sound that is the result of his orchestral approach to electronics. His music could be considered symphonic electronica, because he often uses the unique sounds and capabilities of synthesizers in an orchestral way. His playing brings the electronic sounds to life by putting dynamics and expression into them.
Vangelis showed his natural talent at an early age. By the age of four, he was playing and making up his own music. His parents exposed him to traditional music training, but he had little interest in this, preferring to follow his own inspiration. This lack of interest in traditional classical music infuses his work. While his playing is often quite virtuosic, he music does not explore the complex structures and development of classical music, instead focusing on creating new approaches to orchestration.
As a young man, Vangelis was in several rock bands. His band Formynx was popular because it was one of Greece’s first rock bands. With Demis Roussos and Loukas Sideras, Vangelis formed a progressive rock band, Aphrodite’s Child. They released several acclaimed albums, and had several number one singles in Europe. Their most significant release was the controversial double album 666. This was the first music that provides a taste of Vangelis’ later output.
In the early seventies, Vangelis recorded several soundtracks for the French director Frederic Rossif. He also released his first solo ablum, the progressive rock Earth. Earth continued some of the ideas that Vangelis explored on 666, such as chant-like vocals, serious lyrical themes, and a more orchestral rock feel.
In 1974, Vangelis moved to London. He signed with RCA and build Nemo Studios, a large recording studio with 24-track capabilities. This is where Vangelis created his unique sound, and some of his most important work. His work at Nemo included Heaven and Hell, Albedo 0.39, Spiral and Opera Sauvage.
In the eighties, Vangelis developed a more mature symphonic electronica style. He recorded many solo albums, including See You Later, Mask, and Direct. His best known work from this time, though, is his soundtrack work. In 1981, he scored Chariots of Fire, for which he won an Oscar. His score for Blade Runner was a crucial element of the movie’s appeal. He contributed a tragic, minimal score to the movie Missing. His recording Antartica captures the music of a movie by the same name. He also contributed scores to The Bounty and other movies.
In the nineties through this day, his recorded output has slowed somewhat from his peak. Some of the recordings from this era include The City, Voices and 1492: The Conquest of Paradise.
Vangelis has colloborated with a large number of artists. Since the 1970’s he has worked with Jon Anderson of Yes. Their recordings together include Short Stories and Friends of Mr. Cairo. His recordings with Irene Papas, including 1986’s Rhapsodies, are beautiful, dramatic, and expressive. Other important collaborators include Demis Roussos and Montserrat Caballe.
Vangelis is still active, though not as prolific as in the seventies and eighties. He’s worked on several stage productions recently, and on a set of pieces linked to NASA’s Mission to Mars, Myghodea.