Chris Blattman

What did two centuries of war do to classical music?

An unusual impacts of war study from Karol Jan Borowiecki:

In this paper we explore whether, and to what extent, the incidence of war affects the migration intensity of 164 prominent classical composers born after 1800. We model the aggregate stock of composers in a country and find that periods of war correspond negatively with the number of artists. We also find that conflict-induced migration intensity is considerably higher for composers than for the overall population and demonstrate that the share of composers in the overall population drops due to the incidence of war. We further find that the observed outmigration substantially diminishes the country’s creative potential in the long-run.

Papers here and here.

From another:

We construct age-productivity profiles and find that the impact of wars on creative production is markedly heterogeneous – composers’ productivity was significantly higher during defensive or victorious international wars and lower during intra-state conflicts, offensive or lost international wars. the long-run.

6 Responses

  1. Critique by anonymous bloggers is always amusing! Perhaps, according to Mr/Ms ‘baggins’ the world would be a better place if we didn’t have at all any history research…as it perishes so fast?

    Nonetheless, many thanks for all the time reading/clicking through this.

  2. On the other hand, where would classical music be without Napoleon? Would the great cultural treasures produced under Prussian protection have happened without an enlightened monarch gathering and supporting refugee artists? Our artists threaten to leave when we go to war, but they never do…

  3. oh damn, wait… he’s a PhD student. Sorry I withdraw all remarks. Novel research (regardless of any proximity to social utility) is the rite of passage right?

  4. Upon Boroweicki’s homepage: 1 paper published about the same, 4 working papers, and three more in the works. Pardon my cynicism but jaysus on a stick.

  5. Urgh, I take it you mean this as a direct follow-up to the previous post?

    This reminds me of the famous line delivered by the character played by Orson Welles in The Third Man:
    “Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

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