TheCollector Interviews Omar Rahbany: Musician & Composer

Hailing from the legendary Rahbani music family, Lebanese musician and composer Omar Rahbany sat down with TheCollector to discuss his music and inspirations.

Mar 8, 2024By Anna Sexton, BA Int'l Relations, BA Art History, MA in-progress

interview composer omar rahbany


TheCollector recently had the pleasure of interviewing renowned musician and composer Omar Rahbany. Born in Beirut in 1989 into a family that profoundly influenced the music scene in Lebanon, Rahbany has made a name for himself in his own right. Our conversation centered on his experience growing up in such a musical environment, how he developed his own style, and what it means to be a musician in Lebanon, a country with a rich yet volatile history. Watch the video here:



A Music-Filled Heritage

best of fairuz
The Best of Fairuz. Source:


For those unfamiliar with the stars of Lebanese music, here is a quick crash course: the singer Fairuz (Nouhad Haddad) teamed up with musician-songwriter brothers Assi and Mansour Rahbani in the early 1950s to form a musical trio. What set their music apart was that they adapted traditional Christian and Arabic music for a contemporary audience, using modern instruments. They released countless songs and skyrocketed to fame; Fairuz and Assi married in 1953 (they are Omar’s great aunt and uncle). In 1971, the trio even toured the US.


With the breakout of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975, the group continued performing for both the Christian and Muslim sides of Lebanon, demonstrating how their music could successfully transcend the political and religious differences that had plunged the country into violence.

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Omar Rahbany, grand-nephew of Fairuz. Photo courtesy of Omar Rahbany


However, Fairuz, Assi, and Mansour were not the only Rahbanis involved in the art scene. Many others were active in music, theater, dance, and cinema. New generations came as well and added their mark on the family legacy. Among many other family members, Mansour’s son, Ghadi, has had a successful career as a playwright and composer, with a long list of works to his name. He is also known for creating children’s music and shows with his brother, Marwan. In turn, Ghadi’s son, Omar, has continued developing innovative and cross-cultural music for Lebanon and the whole world.


Who is Omar Rahbany?

omar rahbany portrait black white
Photo courtesy of Omar Rahbany


Growing up in Beirut, Omar Rahbany experienced a wide variety of cultures that would go on to impact his music. Raised in a city where different languages swirled around him, people of various backgrounds and opposing values met and mingled in the streets, and creativity and innovation were rife, Rahbany felt himself pulled in the many directions he experienced in his environment. However, one thing was certain: he would make a name for himself in music.


omar rahbany portrait
Photo courtesy of Omar Rahbany


And this certainly has become a reality. His compositions have been picked up by many orchestras worldwide, including the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine and the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra. Additionally, Rahbany’s critically acclaimed album Passport, released in 2016, is a true testament to his musical prowess and demonstrates his seamless ability to blend music from many different cultures, traditions, and places. Passport is also a testament to his heritage; he sees himself as a citizen of the world, not tied down to one specific culture or heritage.


Omar Rahbany will perform with his orchestra in Geneva on March 9, 2024. However, you can experience his music anytime via his YouTube channel.

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By Anna SextonBA Int'l Relations, BA Art History, MA in-progressAnna holds a BA from the University of Washington in Art History and International Relations and is currently based in Strasbourg, France. She has worked in several museums and art galleries in the Seattle area as well as abroad. She is currently completing her Master's thesis on the spoliation and restitution of Nazi-looted art in Strasbourg. When she is not writing & researching, Anna enjoys dancing ballet, learning languages, doing crosswords, and drinking tea.