“Did you know Li Beirut’s main melody is a note for note copy of the Concierto de Aranjuez’s Second Movement?”
“How did the public not realize that Ya Ana Ya Ana’s progression is basically the refrain of Mozart’s 40th Symphony?”
Well, Mr. turtle-neck-wearing-espresso-drinking-leather-notebook-carrying hipster, we did realize ... and we’re more than OK with it.
In the 1960s, Lebanon witnessed a cultural and artistic renaissance, and Fairuz was the face of that movement. In the melting pot of Fairuz’s music, you’ll find elements of Russian folklore, classical music and French pop.
The public’s enthusiasm for the foreign melodies that Fairuz introduced exhibits Lebanon's open-mindedness when it comes to embracing diversity and channeling it to become part of a collective identity.
Although plagiarism and copyright infringement are serious offenses now, back when the Rahbani brothers and Fairuz created music together, things were a lot more "loose". This – dare I say – freedom allowed for a cultural awakening, one that greatly elevated the music scene.
By adapting Western classics to Eastern instrumentation, the Rahbani brothers gave Fairuz a chance to introduce the public to international classics, while still retaining authenticity.
These are a few songs that were cherry picked by the Rahbanis, rearranged, and given to Fairuz on a silver platter ... which she turned into gold.
Yves Montand - Les Feuilles Mortes
This 1945 French song was originally penned by composer Joseph Cosma and poet Jacques Prévert. Since then, it has transcended both time, space and genre, becoming a pop and jazz standard covered by various household name artists, such as Nat King Cole, Edith Piaf, Roger Williams and – of course – Fairuz, with her 2001 hit Bizakker Bil Kharif.
Polyushko - Polye
This 1933 Soviet Russian song was composed by Lev Knipper. This epic anthem was originally used to rouse the Russians and get their blood pumping. The Rahbanis wasted no time using the music on their musical comedy Loulou, for the song Kanou Ya Habibi.
Concierto de Aranjuez – Second Movement
This seminal 1939 Spanish concerto was written for classical guitar. The tune was adapted by a plethora of esteemed artists such as Richard Anthony and Miles Davis. Fairuz was also able to interpret this melody, using its wistful ambiance to reflect on her city and create one of her biggest hits: Li Beirut.