ARGOV, ALEXANDER (Sasha ; 1914–1995), Israeli popular music composer. Argov was born in Moscow and immigrated to Palestine in 1934, where he changed his last name from Abramovich to Argov in 1946. His mother was a professional pianist and his father a dentist. Argov began to play the piano at the age of three and a half, and when he was six began composing songs which his mother wrote down for him. He had no formal training in music, and in his adult life music was not his main source of income; however, composing was always his mission in life. For over six decades he composed music in which he exhibited considerable originality.
He wrote over 1,000 songs, including songs for army and regular entertainment groups such as the Chizbatron (1948); Naḥal (1950–c. 1960); Batzal Yarok ("Green Onion," 1958–60); the Tarnegolim ("Roosters," 1961–63), as well as music for theater and film. He accompanied some performances of his songs, as the piano played an important part in his music. He ascribed considerable importance to the relationship between text and music and attempted to represent words in music using frequent changes of rhythm and meter. His songs range between art song and popular song. His most famous musical was Shelomo ha-Melekh ve-Shalmai ha-Sandlar ("King Solomon and Shalmai the Cobbler"), first performed in 1964.
Argov's music is distinguished by characteristics such as unexpected melodic leaps, chromaticisms, dissonances, complex harmonic progressions, and modulations to distant keys. His style had a far-reaching influence on the work of a younger generation of Israeli popular music composers. A selection of his songs was published in 1946. Argov published three others: Kakhah Setam (1979), Et Ma she-Ratziti (1983), and Me-Ever la-Tekhelet (2001). In 1988 he won the Israel Prize for his contribution to the Hebrew song.
I. Vetzan, "Unique Musical Characteristics in the Songs of Sasha Argov," Ph.D. thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Hebrew, 2003).
[Gila Flam (2nd ed.)]