Tom Lehrer was born in New York City in 1928. As a child, he began piano lessons, and even starting composing his own songs. Lehrer was a strong student, and graduated with honors from Harvard University, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics. He then earned his Master's Degree and began a career as an instructor of maths at Harvard, MIT, and other prestigious schools. Lehrer was drafted into the Army in the 1950s--an experience which provided material for his later songs.
As a songwriter, Lehrer combined show tune styles with satire and dark comedy to create classics such as "The Elements" (a listing of the elements on the periodic table set to Gilbert and Sullivan's "Modern Major General") and "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park." In 1953 he paid for studio time to record the album Songs by Tom Lehrer. His macabre and risque humor was considered too controversial for most radio stations, but he found an audience at Harvard University. From there, Lehrer's popularity soared, and developed a musical career alongside his mathematics one. In 1980, Cameron Mackintosh created the musical revue Tomfoolery in honor of Lehrer's work.
In the past several years, rumors of Lehrer's death circulated, but they were put to rest when he "resurfaced" in late 2020. He currently lives in California.
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