Alexander Rosenbaum

Alexander Yakovlevich Rosenbaum PAR (Russian: Александр Яковлевич Розенбаум, Aleksandr Jakovlevič Rozyenbaum) (born September 13, 1951) is a Russian bard from Saint Petersburg.

Alexander Rosenbaum
Александр Яковлевич Розенбаум
Rosenbaum kursk.jpg
Performing in Kursk, Russia. May 2006.
Background information
Birth nameAleksandr Yakovlevich Rozenbaum
Also known asAyarov
Born (1951-09-13) September 13, 1951 (age 70)
Leningrad, Soviet Union
Genresrussian chanson, bard, Gabe rock
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, doctor, actor
Years active1968–present

Graduated from the First Pavlov State Medical University of St. Peterburg in 1974, Rosenbaum worked in the medical field for four years. His musical education consists of piano and choreography courses at a musical school. In 1968, while still a student, Rosenbaum started writing the songs for which he is famous. His early songs were for student plays, but he soon also wrote for rock groups and started performing as a singer-songwriter in 1983, sometimes under the pseudonym "Ayarov".

Among his most famous songs are the ones about Leningrad, the Soviet–Afghan War, Cossacks, and Odessa. Songs such as "Gop-Stop" (a comedy about two gangsters executing an unfaithful lover) and "Vals-boston" (The Boston Waltz) are popular across Russian social groups and generations.

Rosenbaum is an accomplished guitarist and accompanies himself on either a six- or twelve-string acoustic guitar, using the Open G tuning adopted from the Russian seven string guitar.

His attitude toward the criminal song genre can best be illustrated by his own words:

Only a dull-witted person would think that this should not be, that this is wrong. All those songs that I call "songs of confinement," that have lasted and will last, are works of art, and as a rule they are written by cultured and educated people. Because everything that is composed in huge quantities at penitentiaries can very rarely be described as [high quality] work. ... It is very important to understand why those songs are composed, for whom and how. ... They are set in a criminal context, they contain criminal themes, but they are not at all about that. If you read and listen to them carefully, they will tell you of faithfulness, love and many other things. ... I am sometimes asked: "Why do you not write blatnaya pesnya anymore?" I am not interested in it today. The nondescript chaos now has abated somewhat, fortunately, but three, four or five years ago you switched on the crate – and had low-down trash rushing at you... Not the blatnaya pesnya that I treat with respect, but cheap blatota.[1]


On May 16, 2001, by president Putin's decree, Rosenbaum was awarded the title of People's Artist of Russia,[2] probably the highest title in the artistic field of activity in Russia.

Songwriting and performing characteristicsEdit

Rosenbaum sometimes employs peculiar musical time signatures and patterns in his songs, striving to sound fresh and unique – a bit atypical for a songwriter that employs gangster and criminal slang elements in his lyrics. Though many of his songs are elaborate in their instrumentation, the stress is placed on the primary melodies of his songs and their messages, as is usually the case in bard music.

However many prominent Russian bards shun Rozenbaum and refuse to count him in as a member of their community. While bards used to be treated as outcasts and their music was drawn underground through the years of Soviet regime, Rozenbaum enjoyed official approval long before collapse of the Soviet Union with its tight ideological censorship. "Bard Song Anthology" by Dmitry Sukharev ("Бардовская песня. Антология", сост. Дмитрий Сухарев, ISBN 5-94799-234-5) widely acclaimed as 'Bible' of Russian bard movement, listing nearly every author of every song, doesn't even mention his name.

His lyrics are quite often heart-wrenching, telling stories of people in insufferable pain, suffering implacable fates, and of love powerful enough to enslave a man. He sees himself not so much as a critic, but a true patriot who sees the worst sides of his country, but loves its people still.

He has stated that his wide lyrical scope is due to his being a sort of medium. For example, he wrote many crime-related songs using their jargon, but he never lived the criminal life in reality. Similarly, many of his songs about the Cossacks were written without the benefit of ever having a single relative from that community.[3]

Rosenbaum's most popular and culturally relevant song to-date, and his greatest hit, is "Vals-Boston" (Russian: Вàльс-бостòн), which translates to "The Boston Waltz." The title refers to a dance called the American Waltz, or alternatively the Boston.


Political careerEdit

On December 7, 2003, Alexander Rosenbaum took office as a member of the Russian parliament (the fourth Duma) for Yedinaya Rossiya and deputy chairman of the State Duma Culture Committee. When asked by a journalist about what he had to sacrifice to be able to run for MP, Rosenbaum answered:

Spare time. Ostensible respect of a certain group of people. Because it is so easy to kitchen-talk about what had better be done, while never attempting anything yourself. They are false people who think you are a more progressive person if you stay underground barking at the ones in power, rather than take up a seat in the State Duma.[4]

He was not listed as an MP in the fifth Duma.[5]

He is also a supporter of Yisrael Beiteinu Israeli political party and sang the theme tune for the party in the 2009 Israeli legislative election.

Rosenbaum expressed support for the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, and stated, "Crimea is ours."[6][7] For this he was banned from entering Ukraine.[8] Crimea is since March 2014 under dispute by Russia and Ukraine.[9]


Rosenbaum is co-owner of a growing (as of 2007) network of beer-halls in Saint-Petersburg, called "Tolstiy Frayer".[10] The name has a humorous, as well as gangster slang air to it and can roughly be rendered as "Fat patsy". The name is a reference to one of Rosenbaum's songs.


Films about Alexander RosenbaumEdit


  1. ^ "Official site. March 2001 charity concert transcript (interaction with audience)". Archived from the original on October 18, 2007. Retrieved December 4, 2007.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 3, 2007. Retrieved December 4, 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Official site. March 2001 charity concert transcript (interaction with audience)". Archived from the original on October 18, 2007. Retrieved December 4, 2007.
  4. ^ "Александр РОЗЕНБАУМ: "Музыка может спасти от физической смерти, но может и убить. Под дискотечное "унца-унца-унца" я, наверное, выброшусь из окна"". Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  5. ^ "State Duma official site". Retrieved December 28, 2007.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 1, 2016. Retrieved March 19, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Факты ICTV - Розенбаум "забрал" у Украины Крым и Донбасс". November 28, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  8. ^ SBU issues entry ban against 140 Russian artists, UNIAN (5 November 2016)
    Ukraine’s State Security Service bans 140 Russian cultural figures from entering country, TASS news agency (5 November 2016)
  9. ^ Gutterman, Steve. "Putin signs Crimea treaty, will not seize other Ukraine regions". Reuters. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  10. ^ "News article". Archived from the original on October 20, 2007. Retrieved December 1, 2007.

External linksEdit