James E. Hanson

James E. Hanson (ca. 1927 - 1989) was the "pianist, j.g." for the two 1951 performances. (Here, "j.g." stands for "junior grade", which was heard frequently at that time in reference to military rank, such as "lieutenant, j.g.".) Hanson played the piano for the parts of the show when Tom Lehrer was busy with other things. (He definitely played for the opening and closing choruses, and may also have played for "Fugue for Scientists", "A Liter and a Gram", and "Don't Major in Physics".) At the time of the show, Hanson was a graduate student in math.

Hanson earned his Bachelor's degree (Phi Beta Kappa) from Cornell (1949), and his Master's degree from Harvard (1951). He immediately joined the staff of Applied Physics Laboratories (APL), a research and development division of Johns Hopkins University. He pioneered development of analog computers for use in guided missile dynamics studies, flight simulation and analysis. Eventually, he became head of the Missile Systems performance group there, and served in that capacity for 22 years. He earned his Ph.D. from George Washington University while continuing at APL. His work in the field of electronic jamming and counter-counter measures was nationally recognized.

Thanks to Margaret Brown, in the APL Office of Communications and Public Affairs for providing this information.

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Background image: Covers for Tom Lehrer's albums