Nicholas Braithwaite was born in London on August 26, 1939. His father was well-known conductor Warwick Braithwaite. The younger Braithwaite studied conducting at the Royal Academy of Music with Maurice Miles and later took instruction in Vienna from famed conductor Hans Swarowsky. Braithwaite's official debut came in 1966 at the Welsh National Opera in a performance of Donizetti's Don Pasquale. In 1970 he conducted at Sadler's Wells (Offenbach's Contes d'Hoffmann), an event that led to his appointment there the following year as resident conductor, then later as associate principal conductor.
After departing Sadler's Wells in 1974, Braithwaite held two important operatic posts. The first was as music director of the Glyndebourne Touring Opera from 1976-1980, and the latter, in Gothenburg, as music director at the Stora Theater Opera, from 1981-1984.
In the new century Braithwaite has been active in the recording studio and has freelanced much of the time in both opera and symphonic music. Among his available recordings is a reissued series that contains symphonies, overtures, piano concertos, and other orchestral works by William Sterndale Bennett, released by Lyrita in 2007.