Tom Lehrar

Tom ist der Lehrer!

By Tim Lihoreau

This Saturday, the 9th of April, sees the 83rd birthday of one of my musical heroes, Tom Lehrer. 
      Perhaps it is as much out of respect for his blend of wonderful words and music as it is a sense of mystery at his mastery of maths that I still go back to old videos of Tom Lehrer and marvel. As with so many things, it was a friendly nudge from an important music teacher (Jeff ‘Ned’ Phillips) which first pushed me in his direction. Indeed, it often makes me wonder: if a music teacher today were to place a vinyl in the hands of an impressionable 12 year old, today, saying ‘Listen to National Brotherhood Week, you’ll love it!’, would they be drummed out of school?
      I soon progressed to the (then) bawdy ‘I got it from Agnes’ and, before long, our small circle of Monty Python-loving friends were exchaning dog-eared copies of the sheet music to ‘Too Many Songs by Tom Lehrer’ as often as they were The Holy Grail or Contractual Obligation. 
      So, in honour of both the great man AND to mark the publication of our new book, The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame, I have taken the absolute liberty of adapting his classic ‘The Elements’ to reflect all the great composers who appear in this top three hundred of top three hundreds. Therefore, humbly and with respect, here are:

The Composers

There’s Albinoni, Albeniz and Britten and Bellini,
There’s Bernstein, Bizet, Beethoven, and Dvorak, Paganini,
There’s Elgar, Maxwell Davies, Franck and Handel and Puccini,
Plus Haydn, Hess and Holst and Horner, Jenkins, Lord, Rossini,

There’s Smetana and Brahms and Lehar, Liszt and Pärt and Addinsell
Plus Glass and Massenet and Mozart, Preisner, oh and Pachelbel,
Gorecki, Donizetti, Canteloube and Schubert and Max Bruch….
…And Rutter, Butterworth and Berlioz and Delius and Gluck,

There’s Tarrega and Tavener and Faure and John Barry,
There’s Hawes and Shore, and Mahler and Prokofiev and Parry,
And Litollf, Orff, MacCunn, Saint-Saens and Satie and MacCartney,
And Tallis, Pergolesi and Debussy and Mascagni.


There’s Chopin, Schumann, Copland. There’s Caccini, Samuel Barber,
Plus Borodin, George Gershwin, Richard Strauss and Strauss the Father,
Leo Delibes and Edward Grieg, John Williams, Einaudi,
Plus Charles Gounod and then Rameau, Antonio Vivaldi,

There’s Lauridsen and Mendelssohn, Sibelius, Rachmaninov,
Stravinksy, Finzi, Ralph Vaughan-Williams, and Rimsky-Korsakov,
And Bach and Offenbach, Rodrigo, Stanley and Mussorgsky,
And Khachaturian and Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky,

There’s Verdi, Monteverdi, Wagner, and there’s Morricone,
There’s Ungar, Strauss the Younger, Walton, Zimmer and Zipoli.
These aren’t the only ones that I could sing to you by name…
They’re those that made the Ultimate Classic FM…Hall of Fame.

Tim Lihoreau presents the Brighter Breakfast at the Weekend
between 6 am & 9 am on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Ultimate Hall of Fame Book, containing information on ALL the composers featured above, is published now by E&T.