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Nimrod Borenstein

Portrait: Nimrod Borenstein “À dix ans j'ai dit à mes parents: si je ne peux pas être compositeur, je me tuerais"

By Adrienne Benassy

Aged 10, I told my parents: if I can't be a composer, I’ll kill myself” replies Nimrod Borenstein when asked how he got into composing music. A few decades later, not only is this music lover still alive, but his compositions are gaining a worldwide reputation with performances given throughout Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan, Israel and the U.S.A. Today, he is getting ready for the world premiere of his latest composition conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy, ‘If you will it, it is no dream’. France in London portrays this brilliant artist and extraordinary personality. 

"I wanted to write great music, not just music"

Outstandingly bright, animated by an unlimited passion for music and bursting with energy, Nimrod Borenstein – with an expressive Mediterranean accent and body language – conveys a feeling of effortless happiness and fulfilment, which puts a smile on your face from the moment you meet him. His cheerful eyes, slightly curled hair and colourful jumper, like vestiges of an innocent child-dreamer, add to his relentless enthusiasm and free-spirited personality. Composition was for him an obsession, a vocation, a destiny: “I knew I wanted to be a musician from the age of three, and I wanted to write great music, not just music. No I wanted to be like Beethoven or Brahms. I wanted it to be great. I wasn’t doing music as a hobby. I was very good at maths too, so I wasn’t composing because I couldn’t do anything else, I was doing it because I had to, it was like a fate, a calling”.

“I made a fuss at the age of four to take the BEST music lessons NOW

Nimrod Borenstein was born in Israel to an artist father and a political sciences teacher mother. He moved to Paris at the age of three and “made a fuss at age four to take the BEST music lessons NOW”. If Paris was the base for his boundless love of music, he paradoxically felt more influenced by Russian and German composers – even though he has a special admiration for Ravel and Debussy. “Also, France made me more Cartesian, French people are very analytical and structured, and I can’t get rid of the accent either” he laughs. But, he does not sound especially Gallic, some of his intonations are almost Italian – maybe from talking with his polyglot Italian wife – and music seems to be this citizen-of-the-world’s only real language. 

"The music industry is like a global village"

Always seeking to be the best and to pursue his dream of writing “great music”, Nimrod flew to London when he was 17 years old to study at the Royal College of Music, and fell head over heels with the dazzling British capital. “London is a very inspiring place to live, and today most musicians live between London, Berlin and New York. The music industry is like a global village; it’s such a small world” he explains. And actually this is where he met the brilliant Russian-Icelandic conductor, Vladimir Ashkenazy, in the heart of London.

"It’s very tough, even if you are very successful"

I had first listened to one of his (Vladimir Ashkenazy) interviews, and his vision of composing stroke me. He said that being a composer is something one cannot escape, one would die if one couldn’t do it. Some people will tell you it’s all about inspiration, but it’s not, it’s not even a choice. It can’t be, because it’s such a difficult material life. If you become a composer you will surely be poor and sometimes not even known during your lifetime. One would not do that just for fun. It’s very tough, even if you are very successful. In most jobs, if you are in the top 100 in the world, you are going to be a millionaire, as a composer you will hardly have any money, and the competition is huge. There will always be thousands of people at your back waiting for your place. So you’ll become a composer only if you have to. It’s an amazing spiritual life though, and it’s good to have a calling.” says this definitely out-of-the-ordinary musician

If you will it, it is no longer a dream

Feeling this immense connection with Vladimir Ashkenazy, Nimrod Borenstein did everything in his power to meet him, which he finally did and they gave birth to his latest project commissioned by the Philarmonia “If you will it, it is no dream”.This title stresses the importance of having a faith in something and is a positive way of looking at life, thinking that everything is possible if one really desires it. Nimrod Borenstein concludes that one needs to believe in this phrase to become a composer, and this extremely inspiring note left me with only one desire: to listen to his music on 13 June at Southbank Centre. 

For further information about the event, please check out the website.


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