This is the first in a series of posts devoted to great composers of New Age music. I love this style of music. It relaxes me and helps me to concentrate, even it allows me to travel with the imagination and it also helps me to be more creative. This is an incredible style of music but quite unknown to the general public. That is why I thought it will be appropriate to let people know some of the exponents of New Age music. In each article I´m going to talk about a composer, with some personal details of his life and his musical trajectory and I will give you some links to some of his best works or those which I like more. I hope you will enjoy this section as much as I do writing it. I´m going to show you an incredible new world, you just have to sit back and relax.
Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, better known as Vangelis (his stage name), is one of the most important exponents of electronic music and it´s probably most of you already know some of his songs. Some of his best known works are “Chariots of fire” (for which he won an Oscar award in 1981) and “Blade Runner” (for me his best album and for which he should have won another Oscar in 1982).
His music is characterized by the use of synthesizers and acoustic instruments. He creates atmospheres with an enveloping sound in a solemn tone. Many styles are present in his discography, thus, trying to pigeonhole Vangelis´ style of music is very difficult.
One of my favorite songs of “The Bounty” (1984) soundtrack.
In spite of being widely known by his soundtracks, he has also composed several pieces for ballet and theater and, of course, he has many studio works. He also expresses himself artistically painting. Here you will find some of his paintings.
Vangelis was a child prodigy. It is said that he started to compose at the age of 4 and he gives his first concerts at the age of 6. Besides, he was a pioneer in the use of synthesizers in the music production process.
His golden period was the 80´s. He received an Oscar award for best soundtrack from the movie “Chariots of fire”. Besides, he composed the famous soundtrack of Blade Runner, the sci-fi cult film by Ridley Scott. This soundtrack came out in 1994. Twelve years after the release of the movie! But believe me, the waiting was worth it. To my way of thinking the soundtrack of “Blade Runner” is his best work. Another great work he published in that decade was the soundtrack of “Antarctica”, a Japanese film. One of my favorite, the album “The city”, composed and produced entirely in a Rome hotel room, where Vangelis was staying to witness the filming of Roman Polanski’s film “Bitter Moon”. In this album Vangelis employs a wide range of styles, from jazz and rock to new age.
Another masterpiece. You can find this song on the compilation album “Reprise” (1999).
One of his last works is the soundtrack of “Alexander” (2004), controversial film about the Macedonian king Alexander the Great by Oliver Stone.
It´s interesting to mention the method used by Vangelis to compose soundtracks for movies. His method is to watch a rough cut of the footage and let it inspire his creative process. For me he is a genius, and this post is my little tribute to his work to thank for so many great moments in my life.
This is my favorite song of his most famous album “Chariots of fire” (1981).
Next, I give you a list of my favorite albums of his extensive discography.
The list is ordered by preference with the date of publication of each album. If the album is a compilation you will see a “C”.
1- Blade Runner (1994)
2- Reprise (1999) C
3- The city (1990)
4- Antartica (1983)
5- 1492 The Conquest of paradise (1992)
6- L´Apocalypse Des Animaux (1973)
7- Direct (1988)
8- Chariots of Fire (1981)
9- Oceanic (1996)
10- Alexander (2004)
Written by: David Cantone