An Argonaut of the Cosmos, Vangelis Papathanassiou departed from this life, a modern Jason from the land of the Argonauts of “little Greece”. A land which has given birth to greatness, and with Argo the Greek spirit travels around the world and is amplified through the Greeks of the Diaspora transcending its spirit the world over.
However, the relationship of the Greek Diaspora with its homeland is fragile in terms of solidarity and cooperation based on good faith, and is full of examples through the ages. A typical example is the case of Vangelis Papathanassiou who was bonded to his homeland, but lived a tale of pain, as portrayed in the following article published by “Magnesianews.gr” on May 21, 2022 , and which I quote here in its entirety:
“The greatest composer from Volos, Vangelis Papathanassiou has entered the pantheon of the immortals, spreading global sadness to all the people who knew and appreciated his work, but mainly to the people who knew him personally and had come in contact with him. One of them is the former president of the Volos Tourism Organization (VTO), Mr. Vangelis Gousios, who recalls on Radio ENA in a conversation with Mr Dimitris Kareklidis moments and events that he shared together with the late composer that he will never forget.
Mr. Gousios initially referred to the efforts made shortly before the Greek Olympic Games, with the then Mayor of the city of Volos, Mr. Mitros in order to approach Vangelis Papathanassiou and take advantage of his global reputation at the local level (in Volos-Greece). He said that unfortunately despite all the efforts they made, he did not respond with the excuse that he felt bitter and dissatisfied with his hometown.
A year after the Olympic Games, going back to 2005, he remembers that Vangelis Papathanassiou had come to Volos without anyone knowing it. In the process, since they now discovered his arrival and his stay at the Xenia Hotel, they made the attempt to meet him again, and this time he answered the call. “On the occasion of his arrival in Volos, the Mayor sent him a letter, accompanied by the ship of Argos and inviting him to meet and talk. He himself, accepting the invitation, and suggested to the Mayor a dinner meeting. “From there on, our contacts with Vangelis Papathanassiou began”, says Mr. Gousios.
Then, when the late composer learned that the city where he was born would rebuild Argo, he was excited, according to Mr. Gousios, a fact that was the reason for extending his stay in Volos. “He was preparing a big event for Argo, and music worthy of the Myth of the Olympic Games. Every afternoon he would come to the place where we were building Argo, collect the sawdust that fell to the ground from the work, put it in a pillowcase, and every night he worked in his office he would smell it, composing the music for the event he dreamt of creating for Argo’s Departure “, Mr. Gousios remembers and in this way the deep love unfolded that the composer felt for Argo. But a love that was destined to remain “unfulfilled”, since his dream did not come true. “Unfortunately, the departure of the Argo never took place, due to a misunderstanding created with the next Municipal Authority. “The result of the misunderstanding was that he would never come to Volos again”, said the former president of VTO.
Mr. Gousios’s personal contact with the world composer allows him to say that he was a smart man, who won everyone over with his simplicity and modesty, without any need for self-promotion, while he was also one of the people who was always thinking of his hometown, and he argued that Volos should be renamed Iolkos again, because that way it would become famous internationally. He remembers the composer identifying himself as a better painter, rather than a composer, with his amazing works today being in Spain, and of course France.
“Vangelis Papathanassiou was so attached to his hometown and he loved the area very much, but which” traumatized” him, I would say. “Intelligent people, especially when they are engaged in the arts, are more concerned and introverts than we everyday people are,” said Mr. Gousios, who is clearly upset about the late musician’s relationship with his homeland.”
As Vangelis is known to have also said “For my contributions I do not expect anything from Greece. Send me a tin of oil and one with olives ”. The greatness and selflessness of a truly great artist and beautiful Greek!