Alexandr Rozenbaum

Aleksandr Rozenbaum / Александр Розенбаум

Published: September 24, 2016

Aleksandr Rozenbaum (Александр Розенбаум) is a Russian/Soviet bard, singer-songwriter, and poet who is widely known across Russia. His songs—there are more than 800 of them—have been popular for decades, and he has won many Shanson of the Year and other awards.

He was born in 1951 in St. Petersburg to parents who worked in medicine. He went to music school and studied piano, and then went on to a music institute, where he studied jazz arrangement. Another part of his musical development was his meeting with guitarist Mikhail Minin when he was a teenager—Minin lived in Rozenbaum’s grandmother’s communal apartment and introduced him to the guitar. Rozenbaum also started writing poetry as a teenager. He pursued medicine as a career, working as an emergency medicine doctor for several years after university, but he didn’t give up music, writing songs about his work in the ambulance during breaks. Eventually he gave up medicine in favor of music.

Rozenbaum is often considered a “criminal” bard (referring to his musical genre, not his activities!), but scholars of his work have pointed out that he can’t be so easily pigeonholed.

Among his repertoire are many songs about St. Petersburg, his beloved home city, and a cycle of songs about Odessa, inspired by the short stories of Soviet Jewish writer Isaac Babel. He has also written about Russian history: the Decembrists, the year 1937 (one of the periods of heightened purges under Stalin—though he wrote them in the 1980s, these songs were still repressed by the authorities), and World War II.

Rozenbaum also wrote songs during perestroika and after the fall of communism expressing his ambivalent views about the time and his concerns about his homeland. He is known for having a deep love for Russia, and was named a People’s Artist of the Russian Federation in 2001. He also served as a deputy in the Duma, in the United Russia party (the party led by Putin), from 2003 to 2005. Having released more than 30 recordings starting in 1981, he still writes songs and tours to this day.

Find Aleksandr Rozenbaum on Amazon


“Gop-Stop” (“Гоп-Стоп”), one of Rozenbaum’s very popular songs in the “criminal” genre:

Lyrics for “Гоп-Стоп”:

Гоп-стоп, мы подошли из-за угла.
Гоп-стоп, ты много на себя взяла.
Теперь расплачиваться поздно,
Посмотри на звёзды,
Посмотри на это небо
Взглядом, бля, тверёзым,
Посмотри на это море –
Видишь это всё в последний раз.

Гоп-стоп, ты отказала в ласке мне.
Гоп-стоп, ты так любила звон монет,
Ты шубки беличьи носила,
Кожи крокодила,
Всё полковникам стелила,
Ноги на ночь мыла,
Мир блатной совсем забыла,
И “перо” за это получай!

Гоп-стоп, Сэмен, засунь ей под ребро,
Гоп-стоп, смотри не обломай “перо”
Об это каменное сердце
Суки подколодной.
Ну-ка, позовите Герца,
Старенького Герца,
Он прочтёт ей модный,
Очень популярный
В нашей синагоге отходняк.

Гоп-стоп, у нас пощады не проси,
Гоп-стоп, и на луну не голоси,
А лучше вспомни ту “малину”,
Васькину картину,
Где он нас с тобой прикинул,
Точно на витрину.
В общем, не тяни резину,
Я прощаю всё. Кончай её,


“We’re Alive” (“Мы живы”), displaying another side of Rozenbaum’s musicality:

Lyrics for “Мы живы”:

Вновь солнце взошло над грешною землёй,
И вновь берега обласканы приливом.
Пахнет сосновою смолой
И скошенной травой,
Клин журавлей над головой,
А значит, мы живы.

Мужское плечо и женская рука
Друг друга в ночи коснутся боязливо.
Есть океан у моряка,
У пирамид – века,
И у поэта есть строка,
А значит, мы живы.

Старина, скажу я тебе одно:
Спи всегда с открытым окном,
Чтоб чувствовать мир,
Его благодарно прими,
Всё то, что в нём есть, ты прими, прими.

Кувшин с молоком и кружка на столе,
В степях лошадям лохматит ветер гривы,
Над миром властвуют балет,
Улыбки королев,
И Гарри Поттер на метле,
А значит, мы живы.

Старина, скажу я тебе одно:
Спи всегда с открытым окном,
Чтоб чувствовать мир,
Его благодарно прими,
Всё то, что в нем есть, ты прими, прими.

Играй, музыкант, стирай лады гитар.
Простая плита на кладбище у Джимми.
Подумай! Деньги – лишь товар,
И переполнен бар,
Плывёт с акулами Макар,
А значит, мы живы.


Find Aleksandr Rozenbaum on Amazon

About the author

Julie Hersh

Julie studied Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk and before that, Bishkek, with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

View all posts by: Julie Hersh