Vangelis, Oscar-winning Greek Composer for “Chariots of Fire” and “Blade Runner,” Dead at 79

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Vangelis, the Greek prog-rocker and Oscar-winning composer for films like Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner, has died at the age of 79.

The influential artist born Evángelos Papathanassíou died late Tuesday night, a statement from Vangelis’ “private office” announced to his Elsewhere fan page Thursday. The Athens News Agency also confirmed news of Vangelis’ death. No cause of death was provided, but Greek newspaper OT reports that Vangelis died at a hospital in France where he was being treated for Covid-19.

“Vangelis Papathanassiou was a great Greek composer who excelled at a global level,” Greek foreign minister Nikos Dendias wrote in a translated tweet. “We say goodbye with a big ‘thank you’ for what he offered to Music, Culture and Greece.”

“Vangelis Papathanassiou is no longer with us. For the whole world, this sad news demonstrates that the world music scene has lost the international ‘Vangelis,’ the protagonist of electronic sound, of the Oscars, of Mythology and the hits,” Greece’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted, as translated by Rolling Stone. “For us Greeks, who know his second name was Odysseus, it means that he’s begun his long trip to the Chariots of Fire. From there, he’ll always send us his notes.”

Born in Agria and raised in Athens, Papathanassíou learned piano at a young age, though despite being enrolled in an Athens music school, he never formally learned how to read or write music. “Orchestration, composition — they teach these things in music schools, but there are some things you can never teach,” he said in a 1982 interview (via Associated Press). “You can’t teach creation.”

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SOURCE: Rolling Stone, Daniel Kreps