Lebanon’s famed musician Elias Rahbani dies aged 83

FILE PHOTO: Lebanese musicians and composers Ousama Rahbani, Elias Rahbani and Ziad Rahbani attend the funeral of Mansour Rahbani during a funeral in Beirut
FILE PHOTO: (L-R) Lebanese musicians and composers Ousama Rahbani, Elias Rahbani and Ziad Rahbani attend the funeral of composer, musician and producer Mansour Rahbani in Beirut January 16, 2009. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

January 4, 2021

BEIRUT (Reuters) -Elias Rahbani, who wrote songs for Lebanon’s most revered singer Fairouz among many others, died on Monday at the age of 83, local media reported.

Elias was the youngest brother of celebrated musicians Mansour and Assi Rahbani, known together as the Rahbani brothers.

Fairouz’s songs, written by the Rahbanis, were listened to across religious and factional divides throughout Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war and they continue to transcend divisions in Lebanon and beyond.

“Another branch from the Rahbani tree falls after a journey full of refined music production,” Prime Minister-designate Saad al Hariri wrote on Twitter.

The Rahbanis’ music and lyrics have drawn admiration from across the Arab world.

In a career spanning almost six decades, Elias Rahbani wrote music for many famous Lebanese singers including the late Wadih al-Safi and Sabah.

“Your departure takes with it a large part of the romanticism of our wounded country,” Lebanese singer Ragheb Alama said.

Local and Arab media reported that Rahbani had been taken ill with COVID-19 a few days ago and died in a Beirut hospital. There was no confirmation on the cause of death from his family.

(Reporting by Laila Bassam and Maha El Dahan, editing by Ed Osmond)