The Music Of Cosmos

a look at the music of Vangelis Papathanassiou

When the Cosmos TV series premiered on public television in 1980 its score consisted of a variety of music from all over the world. Considering the non-commercial scope of the series any music could be used, free of charge. The variety of the selected music ranged from classical and ethnical music, to Vangelis' and Jean-Michel Jarre's synthesized pieces taken from their seventies albums.

The liner notes of "The music of Cosmos" - Collector's Edition explain:

"The musical content of COSMOS seemed to create a message of it's own - almost as though it were the collective intelligence of the universe pleasantly calling our attention to the lessons at hand. [this]... expresses, simply and eloquently, our intentions in selecting music for the thirteen hours of the COSMOS television series. As with the golden phonograph record placed on board the Voyager spacecraft, bearing a sampling of "Earth's Greatest Hits", we included a variety of musical traditions and genres. Many hours were spent exploring the music of unfamiliar composers and performers, and considering  how old favorites would enhance the thoughtful words and rich visuals of the series. Finding the music for COSMOS was in itself a voyage of discovery. We hope you will share in that experience, enjoy the music of this album and then sample the original works from which these pieces were excerpted. It was always our intention in COSMOS that the images and the music would be as important as the words, and that the series would speak to that part of us in which the heart and mind are one"

(Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan and Steven Soter)

The music
Vangelis' contribution to the music of Cosmos is twofold. First of all for the original TV series as broadcast in 1980 many tracks were selected from several of the albums released in the seventies. Mostly known is ofcourse the part taken from "Heaven and Hell", which the series adapted as its main title theme. Other compositions used in the original series are:

bulletfrom L'Apocalypse des Animaux: "Creation du monde".
bulletfrom Ignacio (Entends-tu les chiens aboyer?): Main title.
bulletfrom Albedo 0.39: "Pulstar" and "Alpha".
bulletfrom Spiral: "Spiral".
bulletfrom Beaubourg: part II.
bulletfrom China: "The little fete" and "Himalaya".

Several (but not all) of these pieces also made it onto the official "The Music of Cosmos" albums released.

Secondly, when Carl Sagan decided to re-create a new version of the original Cosmos series in 1986 on occasion of the Halley Comet returning to the Earth's vincinity, Vangelis was asked to provide a new score for this series. This new, six-episode version is commonly known as 'Cosmos, a special edition'. Vangelis' original score for the series appears in the Spheric-list titled "Comet"...

Unfortunately, only one of the original 21 cues of this score has been officially  released. "Comet 16" forms the final track on the two disc Collector's Edition of "The music of Cosmos" album. Other cues include new versions of "Heaven and Hell" and "Alpha".



1994 RCA 07863 54003-2 USA
2000 Collectables COL-CD-6293 USA
2000 BMG Special Products MOC 1100 USA (two-disc Collector's Edition)

On RCA, issued in the USA, UK, Holland, Germany, France, Spain, Canada, Japan and Brazil.

1981 Heaven and Hell / Alpha RCA 71 UK
1981 Heaven and Hell / Alpha BBC 1
1981 Theme from the TV-series COSMOS / Alpha PB 5356 Holland
1981 Titelmelodie aus de TV-serie "Unser Kosmos" / Alpha PB 5356 West-Germany


Recording Studio
The original music created for 'Cosmos, a special edition' is recorded in Nemo Studios, London.