Ismet Alajbegović Šerbo

Ismet Alajbegović Šerbo, born on 6 March 1925 in Sarajevo, was a Bosnian-Herzegovinian accordionist, composer of a large number of folk music pieces, author of many musical texts and Sevdalinka connoisseur.

After having played in Sarajevo restaurants and events for many years, Šerbo became one of the first musicians on Radio Sarajevo in 1945. With Zaim Imamović he played in the accordion duet Alajbegović-Imamović, where Imamović later stood out as one of the first great star singers of Radio Sarajevo and Alajbegović became orchestra leader, arranger and author.

As one of the unsurpassable Sevdalinka connoisseurs, which Safet himself confirmed in an interview with Isović, Alajbegović contributed enormously to the harmonization of this song. He created a special style on the harmonica without the virtuoso passages and the dizzying dance music that other accordion players like Jovica Petković and others later boasted about. Šerbo’s style was much more adapted to the Sevdalinka as it was sung by the older singers – flat, without effort, always following the melody of the song as support for improvisation. 

One could say that Šerbo’s music-making (apart from the harmonic path produced by the accordion), of all the other accordion players, comes closest to the Sevdalinka accompaniment with the saz. Šerbo’s harmonica is not a loud thing, which is why the singer should scream.  

Such music-making was simply not recorded before Šerbo.  

Inspired by the success of the works of Jozo Penava, Jovica Petković and Zaim Imamović, Šerbo himself composed Sevdalinka songs. Some of them were created quickly for folk music festivals. Others are extremely successful creations, stylistically very close to the traditional Sevdalinka.

Šerbo’s speciality, however, was the harmonica and the discovery of innovative harmonic solutions, which always retained the light Bosnian melody founded in Sevdah.

He died on 28 July 1987 in Sarajevo.

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