Violinist ~ Pedagogue ~ Visionary
Born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1907 as the eldest child of Russian immigrants, George Bornoff began his violin studies at the age of five. By the age of thirteen, young George had started teaching, and by the age of sixteen, he was a serious solo and orchestral performer in western Canada. Winnipeg in the 1920s and 1930s was the major stop for all cross-Canada railroad transportation. This meant that the famous touring violinists of the day, such as Fritz Kreisler and Jascha Heifetz, all had to stop in Winnipeg as part of their eastward or westward travels, making the city a natural concert stop. The manager of the local concert hall was a buddy of the young Mr. Bornoff, and often arranged not only optimal seating for critical observation, but private discussion and instruction with these great violinists following their performances.
George Bornoff was precocious―as a violinist and as a teacher. His interests and studies were varied and he could well have decided on a career in hockey, theology, or mathematics. Instead, each of these domains prepared him for the creative work he would do in developing his unique system of string education. He often said, “I have invented nothing. I have merely re-organized the presentation of materials.” As with so many things in life, the genius is in the packaging. This genius was expressed as he created and refined his system while founder and head of the Bornoff School of Music in Winnipeg. In 1943 he moved to New York to pursue a Master of Arts at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Completing his degree work after just one year, he soon joined the faculty as head of String Development and Chamber Music. While at Columbia, he formalized and published his work, and began sharing it with other teachers throughout the area. In 1953 he became Professor of Music Education at Boston University. By this time his workshops and Bornoff-oriented programs were being established around the continent. After his retirement from Boston University in 1970, Dr. Bornoff continued his interest and efforts in the field, helping initiate string programs and develop young teachers in the Boston area.