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Lebanon music legend Elias Rahbani dies after contracting Covid-19

Lebanese composer with over 2,500 song credits to his name dies after coronavirus diagnosis
Elias Rahbani conducts his orchestra during a concert at the Casino du Liban, 17 March 2000 (AFP)

Elias Rahbani, one of Lebanon's most revered musicians, died on Monday aged 83 after being diagnosed with Covid-19, according to national media.

Rahbani composed music for many of Lebanon's top artists over the course of his decades-long career, including national icon Fairuz, who was also his sister-in-law; the late diva Sabah; and Wadih El Safi, one of the Arab World's most celebrated singers.

Throughout his career, Rahbani wrote and composed hundreds of award-winning classical music tracks. He is believed to have composed over 2,500 songs.

In the 2000s, he collaborated with contemporary artists, producing hits for pop singers such as Pascale Sakr and Haifa Wehbe. He also wrote scores for many Lebanese and Egyptian films and TV shows and appeared as a judge on several talent shows.

His older brothers, Assi and Mansour Rahbani, were also famous composers and among the most lauded artists in Lebanese and Arabic music. The three siblings were known as the golden trio.

Many Arab artists and politicians eulogised the late Rahbani on Monday.

"He took with him the most beautiful musical era in the history of the Lebanese song," said singer Carole Samaha. "Your deeds are immortal in memory and conscience. I extend my deepest condolences to the entire Rahbani family, especially Nina, Jad and Ghassan," she said in reference to his wife and two sons.

Lebanese pop star Elissa also paid tribute on Twitter. "An honest, loving, and creative artist in every sense of the word, and a person who would never exist again with his instincts, talents and eternal deeds," she wrote. "May God have mercy and all condolences to your generous family."

Lebanon's president Michel Aoun called Rahbani a "great artist", saying that the late musician saw Lebanon as a country of beauty and righteousness. "The music and songs of the late giant will remain a testament that true art alone can defeat death," the president's office said.