Lobachevsky Lyrics - Tom Lehrer

Review The Song (3)



For many years now, Mr. Danny Kaye, who has been my particular idol since childbirth, has been doing a routine about the great Russian director Stanislavsky and the secret of success in the acting profession. And I thought it would be interesting to stea... to adapt this idea to the field of mathematics. I always like to make explicit the fact that before I went off not too long ago to fight in the trenches, I was a mathematician by profession. I don't like people to get the idea that I have to do this for a living. I mean, it isn't as though I had to do this, you know, I could be making, oh, 3000 dollars a year just teaching.

Be that as it may, some of you may have had occasion to run into mathematicians and to wonder therefore how they got that way, and here, in partial explanation perhaps, is the story of the great Russian mathematician Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky.

Who made me the genius I am today,
The mathematician that others all quote,
Who's the professor that made me that way?
The greatest that ever got chalk on his coat.

One man deserves the credit,
One man deserves the blame,
And Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
Hi!
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach-

I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky.
In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics:
Plagiarize!

Plagiarize,
Let no one else's work evade your eyes,
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Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don't shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize -
Only be sure always to call it please 'research'.

And ever since I meet this man
My life is not the same,
And Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
Hi!
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach-

I am never forget the day I am given first original paper
to write. It was on analytic and algebraic topology of
locally Euclidean parameterization of infinitely differentiable
Riemannian manifold.
Bozhe moi!
This I know from nothing.
What-i'm going-to do.
But I think of great Lobachevsky and get idea - ahah!

I have a friend in Minsk,
Who has a friend in Pinsk,
Whose friend in Omsk
Has friend in Tomsk
With friend in Akmolinsk.
His friend in Alexandrovsk
Has friend in Petropavlovsk,
Whose friend somehow
Is solving now
The problem in Dnepropetrovsk.

And when his work is done -
Ha ha! - begins the fun.
From Dnepropetrovsk
To Petropavlovsk,
By way of Iliysk,
And Novorossiysk,
To Alexandrovsk to Akmolinsk
To Tomsk to Omsk
To Pinsk to Minsk
To me the news will run,
Yes, to me the news will run!

And then I write
By morning, night,
And afternoon,
And pretty soon
My name in Dnepropetrovsk is cursed,
When he finds out I publish first!

And who made me a big success
And brought me wealth and fame?
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
Hi!
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach -

I am never forget the day my first book is published.
Every chapter I stole from somewhere else.
Index I copy from old Vladivostok telephone directory.
This book was sensational!
Pravda - well, Pravda - Pravda said: "Zhil-bil korol kogda-to, pree nyom blokha zhila"[1] It stinks.
But Izvestia! Izvestia said: "Ya idoo kuda sam czar idyot peshkom!"[2]
It stinks.
Metro-Goldwyn-Moskva buys movie rights for six million rubles,
Changing title to 'The Eternal Triangle',
With Brigitte Bardot playing part of hypotenuse.

And who deserves the credit?
And who deserves the blame?
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
Hi!


[1] "a king lived once upon a time, a flea lived with him", a line from Goethe's "Faust" (as translated by A. Strugovschik)

[2] "I am going where even the king has to go on foot" (as opposed to riding, etc.), meaning "to the bathroom"






Click here to submit the Corrections of Lobachevsky Lyrics
Hypotenuse | Reviewer: John Davison | 3/9/11

My earliest Tom Lehrer LP, that I bought in 1955 and still have, has Ingrid Bergman playing psrt of hypotenuse. Itwas recorded much earlier, not very long after her notorious affair with Roberto Rossellini.



Correction on actress in "Lobachevsky" | Reviewer: Danny Ginsburg | 2/27/11

I have an LP which has this song "Lobachevsky" but in it Tom Lehrer sings "Doris Day playing part of hypoteneuse" (as opposed to "Brigitte Bardot" who you have listed). I don't know if there were multiple versions but that's the one on the record I have.



Izvestia | Reviewer: Curt Hoffman | 8/31/08

The lyrics are all fine, but the second footnote has missed the point. In German, the phrase "Ich geh' wo der Kaiser geht zu fuesse" (an exact translation of the Russian) refers to the lavatory - to which the king, accustomed to being carried everywhere else, presumably had to go on his own feet. (No wonder the Izvestia review concludes, "It stinks!")





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------ 09/23/2014

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