Whether he was named after Elgar’s Nimrod or not, Nimrod Borenstein’s name brings to mind that memorable melody from the Enigma Variations, perhaps indicating that his destiny was to become a composer. Borenstein's compositions are frequently performed, especially in the USA, England and Eastern Europe.
Borenstein was born in Tel Aviv but grew up in Paris, the cultural centre of France. His father, who was a child prodigy artist, married an Italian woman. Nimrod essentially became a world citizen, with Jewish parents and being raised in France before moving to London to study. His accent in English has been described as a unique blend of French, Polish, Hebrew and West London. He is now married to an Italian woman and they have two children and reside in London.
At the age of six, Borenstein was already composing music, which he was inspired to do through the music of Beethoven. Already as a child, Borenstein found his passion for music and ‘wanted to write something that was great…[he] wanted to be like Beethoven’. The next year, Borenstein began writing 12-tone music, but not in the conventional way—the young composer had never even heard of Schoenberg or serialism. Instead he developed his own system for arranging the 12 notes of the scale, but stopped promptly upon hearing that this had already been done by other composers.
Borenstein’s professional training took place at the Royal College of Music from 1986, after becoming a Laureat of the Cziffra Foundation in 1984. Borenstein first pursued violin with Itzhak Rashkovsky, which he completed successfully, earning the highest scholarship offered by the Leverhulme Trust, allowing him to study composition at the Royal Academy of Music with Paul Patterson.
A desire for originality has been an important factor in Borenstein’s compositional evolution. His output has progressed from using pre-existing 20th-century techniques, including 12-note and serial techniques and sound clusters, to a personalized approach to tonality and tonality systems. His need for individuality is so strong that during his studies he became completely distraught when he discovered that a composition he had just completed contained facets of Gustav Mahler’s style.