George Bornoff

George Bornoff. Violinist, educator; born Winnipeg 5 Nov 1907, died Feb 1998; LAB 1926, BA (Manitoba) 1932, MA (Columbia) 1946, D MUS (Montreal) 1949. His studies were in Winnipeg: 1916-18 with Gus Hughes, 1919-20 with John Waterhouse, 1922-4 with I.S.

Violinist, educator; born Winnipeg 5 Nov 1907, died Feb 1998; LAB 1926, BA (Manitoba) 1932, MA (Columbia) 1946, D MUS (Montreal) 1949. His studies were in Winnipeg: 1916-18 with Gus Hughes, 1919-20 with John Waterhouse, 1922-4 with I.S. Garbovitsky, and ca 1925-8 with Jean de Rimanoczy. Bornoff was concertmaster 1925-8 of the Winnipeg String Orchestra and a member 1923-36 of the first Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. A staff orchestra member 1934-43 for the radio stations CKY and CJRC, he also played regularly 1925-43 in the CRBC and CBC orchestras, and as a soloist he performed widely throughout western Canada.

In 1937 he prepared eight successful candidates for the LRSM, something that astounded the examiner. He founded the Bornoff School of Music in the same year and served as director until 1947. In 1945 he began to teach violin and chamber music at the Teachers' College, Columbia U. He lectured in music education and was in charge of string development 1953-73 at Boston U. In 1973 he began teaching violin at the Boston Cons and in the same year he was appointed professor emeritus at Boston U. In 1980 he became executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of String Education.

Bornoff has been an adjudicator and consultant to music schools and departments of education in Canada, the USA, and Mexico, and has presented string demonstrations and given workshops throughout North America. He is the author of many articles, of Bornoff's Finger Patterns for Violin (Thompson, C. Fischer 1948), and of other instruction treatises. Bornoff has emphasized group study. In 'A word to the teacher' (Bornoff's Finger Patterns for Violin) he states: 'The key to this approach lies in the introduction of the instrument as a whole. Definite objectives for the mastery of the whole violin, from the beginning, will offer a purposeful meaning to a student's practising and will replace the tedious isolation of certain skills and techniques with a musical experience and a sense of accomplishment'.

Bornoff has received several honours, including, in 1974, a Distinguished Service award from the American String Teachers' Association. His pupils have included J. Chalmers Doane, Donna Grescoe, Stanley Kolt, and Gerald Stanick. His wife is the pianist and contralto Mary Ada Baron Bornoff (b Coleman, west of Lethbridge, Alta 6 Jan 1912) who taught at the Bornoff School of Music and appeared in recital in western Canada and New York.


Further Reading

  • Richardson, Bruce D. 'George Bornoff: his contribution to music education through class string intruction,' M MUS thesis, University of Western Ontario 1985

    Smith, G. Jean. 'The controversial George Bornoff,' The Instrumentalist, vol 40, May 1986

    Howell, John R. and Florence Curry Howell, Bornoff: Breakthrough for String Education, (Newton Highlands, Mass 1989)