How Are You, My Dearest Mozart? Well-being and Creativity of Three Famous Composers Based on their Letters
The well-being of a person is reflected in the language used. Building on 1,400 letters written by three famous music composers, I obtain well-being indices that span their lifetime. The validity of this methodology is shown by linking the indices with biographical information and through estimation of the determinants of well-being. I find, consistent with the literature, that work-related engagements and accomplishments are positively related with well-being, while poor health or death of a relative is detrimental. I then exploit the data and provide quantitative evidence on the existence of a causal impact of negative emotions on outstanding creativity, an association hypothesized across several disciplines since the Antiquity; however, not yet convincingly established for the case of extraordinary achievers.
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