|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2009)|
|Died||January 13, 2009 (age 83)
|Occupation||composer, poet, writer, producer, musician|
He received his first musical education on the hands of Father Paul el Achkar, following which he studied Eastern music, musical scores, melodies, Harmony, counterpoint, orchestration and musical analysis. Rahbani was also thoroughly acquainted with rare and valuable references such as the Kamel el Khalay book, the compositions of Al-Kindi and Al-Farabi, and the Shehabiya research in Arab musical melodies. Rahbani studied for nine years under the guidance of Bertrand Robillard, who is considered to be the main catalyst which allowed the young Rahbani’s talent to shine through. In the words of composer Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Mansour’s musical gift changed the fate of Eastern music and song.
During his musical education he collaborated with his brother Assi in creating the Rahbani brothers. They took their new artistic direction to the Lebanese Radio in 1945. The delivery of a ‘Rahbanian’ song was not an easy task; however, it had faced up to the strong current of the traditional song and heritage, which dominated the entirety of the Eastern World since the beginning of the twentieth century, through Salma Hegazi and Abdou El-Hamoli.
The two brothers went on to join the ranks of the Near East Radio, where they composed many artistic works as well as a series of sketches entitled “Sabeh and Makhoul”. When Assi married Nouhad Haddad (also known as Fairuz) in 1955, the two brothers formed a new Rahbani trio with her. They composed poems and songs, which Fairuz would sing with great prowess. The music of the Rahbani Brothers was inspired by the Arab, Islamic, Maronite and Byzantine musical traditions, in addition to Lebanese folklore, and they are deeply acquainted with western classical music.
Mansour wrote four Diwans in his life as a poet:
- Al-Quṣur Al-Mai'yyah, القصور المائية (The aquatic Castles)
- Osafer Waḥde Malekan, أسافر وحدي ملكاً (Traveling alone as a king)
- Ana Al-Ġareeb Al-Aḫar, أنا الغريب الأخر (I am the other stranger)
- Baḥar Al-shete, بحار الشتي (The winter's sailor)
The Rahbani singing theatre is considered as a unique form, which differs somewhat from the international standard for operas. It focuses on the values of dignity, truth, gracefulness, and the depth of its philosophical subjects in order to concentrate on the three main subjects of God, the Human Being, and the Land. Taking the Piccadilly Theatre in Beirut as its springboard, the Rahbani Theatre flew to the entirety of the Arab world, and gave distinguished performances in Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, the Arab Emirates, Syria, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Libya, in addition to several artistic tours in the cities of London, Manchester, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, twelve American states and Canada.
The writings of the Rahbani Theatre are concerned with history, the country, the land, the future, and of course the fate of the poor and common people, with special emphasis on Lebanese folklore. The Rahbani Theatre also tackles the various socio-political problems of the Arab world, as shown in the Brothers’ numerous songs about the crises of Palestine and Algeria. The Rahbani Theatre has succeeded in introducing a new generation of singers, who went on to become famous stars in the Arab world.
The Rahbani repertoire includes plays, poems and melodies that were introduced in the study programs of famous universities around the world, including the Sorbonne, Harvard, Oxford, as well as universities in Lebanon and the Arab world. The Rahbani Brothers have also extended their activities to the world of cinema, and composed the music for three illustrious films: Biyaa el Khawatem (The Ring Seller), Safar Barlek (Exile), and Bent el Hares (The Guardian’s Daughter). Following the death of his brother, Mansour wrote and produced grand theatrical plays, including Summer 840, The Will, The Last Days of Socrates, He Rose on the 3rd Day, The Maronite Mass, Abu Tayeb al Mutanabbi, Moulouk al Tawaef, The Last Day, Hekm al Rehyan, Gibran and the Prophet, Zenobia, and The Return of the Phoenix, which is his last masterpiece.
Rahbani was admitted to the "Hôtel-Dieu de France" hospital in Beirut, Lebanon, following a severe case of pneumonia. He spent three days in intensive care after which he died on January 13, 2009, at the age of 83.