In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Fairuz

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Theatrically Focused Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • Anthologies
  • Lebanon
  • Chapters of Books and Conference Proceedings
  • Journal and Periodical Articles
  • Musical Aesthetics and Performance Practice
  • Texts and Musical Notation
  • Deluxe Concert Programs
  • Interviews and Documentaries
  • Doctoral Dissertations

Islamic Studies Fairuz
Kenneth S. Habib
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 April 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0277


The Lebanese singer Fairuz is one of the most popular and critically acclaimed performers in the history of Arab musical arts. Born Nuhad Haddad in 1935, Fairuz attained extraordinary success, in great part, through her cultivation of an exceptional command of the voice, her development of a deep individual artistry, and her solid rooting in the performance practices of Lebanese and Arab art and popular song. From early in her career, this achievement was in collaboration with the Rahbani family of composer-poets. Assi Rahbani (b. 1923–d. 1986) and Mansour Rahbani (b. 1925–d. 2009) were siblings who worked together as the duo known as the Rahbani Brothers. Fairuz and the Rahbani Brothers met at the Lebanese Radio Station, where she took her professional name, and they began a collaboration there that gave rise to their first international hit in 1952. Occasionally, younger brother Elias Rahbani (b. 1938–d. 2021) joined in the composing as well. Following the marriage of Fairuz and Assi in 1954, Fairuz gave birth to their first child, Ziad Rahbani (b. 1956), who was raised in the presence of some of the most accomplished artists from across Arab society and who similarly showed a remarkable aptitude for musical arts early in life. Following the death of Assi in 1986, Ziad became the primary composer for Fairuz, after which her lyrical and musical style to some extent began increasingly to reflect more of the sensibilities of a younger generation. Since their beginnings, the Fairuz-Rahbani team has changed with the times and given rise to a prodigious artistic output that has included the production of operettas, musical theater sketches, musical films, and over a hundred record albums. Thematically, the wide-ranging repertoire has sometimes addressed universalistic spiritual matters with references to God, eternity, prayer, and other mystical subjects. The artists also have presented material of more expressly religious character that mentions churches, mosques, and houses of worship; that covers esteemed geographical locales, such as Jerusalem and Mecca; and that presents traditional repertoire like Good Friday chanting and Christmas carols. While Fairuz and the Rahbani composers are Christians, their repertoire has appealed across society irrespective of religious and sectarian affiliation. In the process, Fairuz has become a multifaceted icon to listeners from diverse backgrounds in Lebanon, throughout the eastern Mediterranean, across Arab society, and in the diaspora. As for transliteration of the names from Arabic into Latin script, “Rahbani” is fairly consistent, but “Rahbany” also occurs. The plural (i.e., three or more) is “Rahabina” and also is found in the forms “Rahbaniyun” and “Rahbaniyin” while in English it appears as “Rahbanis” as well. While the duo of the Rahbani Brothers has been consistently translated into English in this way, the Arabic form is either “al-Akhawan Rahbani” or “al-Akhawayn Rahbani” (i.e., the two Rahbani Brothers). “Fairuz,” which means “turquoise” in Arabic, has numerous variants in transliteration stemming, in part, from the various possibilities for each syllable of the name (e.g., Fairouz, Fayruz, etc.), but some degree of standardization has come, in part, from the use of this spelling by Voix de l’Orient, the record label that has produced the bulk of her recordings.

General Overviews

The following sources provide broad views of the lives and careers of Fairuz and the Rahabina from the perspectives of the respective authors. While no single definitive overview of this grand subject is available, these entries offer fine overall investigations that include biographical and professional background in addition to sociological commentary and lyrical analysis. Pictures of the artists and accolades about them by various personages are also often included. Along these lines, ʿAssaf 2008 and Aliksan 1987 provide good introductions to the subject, and like many others, they cover material from the large number of operettas or musical theater works that proved to be immensely successful for the artists and greatly formative for Lebanese music culture. Badawi 1966 features numerous lyrical texts from early in the artists’ careers as well as aesthetic analysis, while Mansour 2009 additionally discusses the Rahbani Brothers’ adaptation of the works of other classic artists and their use of traditional genres such as the muwashshaḥ, the poetic and musical genre of 10th-century Andalusian origin. Jarkas 1989 is a handy resource for ascertaining important historical facts. Kattan 2018 addresses gaps found in the present state of scholarship and engages current contributions, such as Weinrich 2006, which provides musical and sociological analysis of the artists and their work in the course of their negotiation of tradition. Obeid 1998 affords considerable insight into prayer and religious elements as found in the composition and performance practices of the artists while Trad and Khalifa n.d. also discusses prayer in the repertoire as well as a few hundred song texts. Najm 2004 is a deluxe publication that includes a great number of high-quality photographs interspersed throughout.

  • Aliksan, Jan. Al-Rahbaniyun wa-Fairuz: Alf ʿAmal Fanni, Khamsun ʿAman min al-ʿAtaʾ. Damascus, Syria: Dar Talas, 1987.

    In Arabic. Translated as: “The Rahabina and Fairuz: A thousand artistic works, fifty years of giving.” It provides a biographical and professional overview of the lives of the Rahabina and Fairuz. Includes coverage of their rise to fame and their work in the Baalbek International Festival since its inception as well as analysis of their lyrical, musical, theatrical, and artistic style.

  • ʿAssaf, Ahmad. Fairuz wa-Dawlat al-Rahabina. Damascus, Syria: Dar al-Raʾi li-l-Dirasat wa-l-Tarjama wa-l-Nashr, 2008.

    In Arabic. Translated as: “Fairuz and the nation of the Rahabina.” The volume provides an overview of the multigenerational family of artists, including Fairuz, Assi, Mansour, Elias, and their children who went on to become leading musicians. Features biographical material, details of historical and professional development, discussion of the voice of Fairuz, coverage of the bringing of other celebrated composers into the Fairuz-Rahbani collaboration, lyrical selections, analysis of the operettas and films, and celebratory quotations of famous politicians and artists.

  • Badawi, Fuʾad. Jarat al-Qamar: Fairuz wa-Rahbani wa-l-Aghani. Cairo, Egypt: al-Dar al-Qawmiyya li-l-Tibaʿa wa-l-Nashr, 1966.

    In Arabic. Translated as: “Neighbor of the moon: Fairuz, Rahbani, and their songs.” Incorporating one of Fairuz’s celestial appellations into the title, the volume situates the fundamental place of song in human existence and contextualizes Fairuz and the Rahabina within Arab society. Discusses their personal backgrounds, professional training, career development, and success as well as compositional style and vocal character. Provides lyrical analysis and includes a great number of texts extending into the early repertoire.

  • Jarkas, Riyad. Fairuz: Al-Mutriba wa-l-Mishwar. Beirut, Lebanon: Sharikat ʿAshtarut li-l-Tibaʿa wa-l-Nashr, 1989.

    In Arabic. Translated as: “Fairuz: The singer and the journey.” It covers the rise and professional journey of Fairuz and the Rahbani composers. Investigates the artists’ multifaceted connection with their audience and larger society, and details issues and events pertaining to their development and significance.

  • Kattan, Assaad. ʿAn Jibal fi al-Ghaym: Matallat Dirasiyya ʿala Irth al-Akhawayn Rahbani wa-Fairuz. Beirut, Lebanon: Arab Scientific Publishers, 2018.

    In Arabic. Translated as: “On mountains in the clouds: Instructional viewpoints on the legacy of the Rahbani Brothers and Fairuz.” The volume engages existing intellectual discourse on the subject, challenges selected other scholarship, and contributes analysis where seen to be lacking. Supplies some missing elements of the story of Fairuz and the Rahbani Brothers through examination of their career and study of their artistic impact, including theatrical analysis of the operetta, al-Mahaṭṭa (The Station).

  • Mansour, Muhammad. Al-Kharita al-Shiʿriyya fi al-Ughniya al-Rahbaniya. Damascus, Syria: Dar Mamduh ʿAdwan, 2009.

    In Arabic. Translated as: “The poetic map in Rahbani song.” It provides wide-ranging coverage of the artists’ work as ties to the relationship between poetry and singing. Discusses the Rahbani Brothers’ incorporation of the poetry and songs of classic artists into their work with Fairuz along with their original compositions. Covers their treatment of vocal genres, including the muwashshaḥ along with copious examples, historical context, and analysis.

  • Najm, Rima. Fairuz: Wa-ʿala al-Ard al-Salam. Beirut, Lebanon: Chamas Printing and Publishing, 2004.

    In Arabic. Translated as: “Fairuz: And peace on earth.” A relatively deluxe production of 321 pages, the volume covers the life of the artist through interwoven discussion of biographical detail, professional trajectory, social commentary, national symbolism, song lyrics, and analysis. Includes many quotations of famous people describing and extolling Fairuz and features perhaps the most comprehensive collection of high-quality photographs of the artists, related famous figures, and venues.

  • Obeid, Joseph. Al-Salat fi Aghani Fairuz. 3d ed. Preface by Said Akl. Jounieh, Lebanon: Al-Matbaʿa al-Bulia, Jamiʿat al-Ruh al-Qudus, 1998.

    In Arabic. Translated as: “Prayer in the songs of Fairuz.” Originally published in 1974, this volume provides an insightful investigation into the prayer and religious themes that have played a vital role in the work of Fairuz and the Rahbani Brothers (e.g., traditional chants and carols for Easter and Christmas seasons). Features a preface by the famous poet, Said Aql, whose poetry was set to music several times by the Rahbani Brothers and sung by Fairuz.

  • Trad, Majid, and Rabiʿ Muhammad Khalifa. Fairuz: Hayatuha wa-Aghaniha. Tripoli, Lebanon: al-Muʾassasa al-Haditha li-l-Kitab, n.d.

    In Arabic. Translated as: “Fairuz: Her life and songs.” The book provides informative biographical sketches of Fairuz, the Rahabina, and artists who worked with them along with pictures. Contains a collection of quotes by other famous artists about Fairuz and the Rahabina, discussion of prayer as found in their work, and a valuable collection of lyrics to a few hundred songs. Though undated, information within places its release no earlier than 2002 (perhaps as a revision).

  • Weinrich, Ines. Fairuz und die Brüder Rahbani: Musik, Moderne und Nation im Libanon. Würzburg, Germany: Ergon, 2006.

    In German. Translated as: “Fairuz and the Rahbani Brothers: Music, modernity, and nation in Lebanon.” The book follows the author’s doctoral dissertation and investigates the rise and development of the trio and their impact on Lebanese and Arab music through a negotiation of tradition and change. Makes use of musicological and sociological analysis to demonstrate the major artistic force that they became in the context of the Lebanese and the larger Arab historical processes that gave rise to them.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.