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War and Creativity: Solving the War-Art Puzzle for Classical Music Composition


  • Karol Jan BOROWIECKI

    () (Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin)


The relationship between conflict and artistic output is ambiguous. This paper proposes an explanation for the contradiction in research, which we term the war-art puzzle. We employ a global sample of 115 prominent classical composers born after 1800 and link their annual productivity with the incidence of wars. 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Karol Jan BOROWIECKI, 2011. "War and Creativity: Solving the War-Art Puzzle for Classical Music Composition," Trinity Economics Papers tep0711, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tcd:tcduee:tep0711

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Karol Jan Borowiecki, 2012. "Are composers different? Historical evidence on conflict-induced migration (1816-1997)," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(3), pages 270-291, August.
    2. Hellmanzik, Christiane, 2010. "Location matters: Estimating cluster premiums for prominent modern artists," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 199-218, February.
    3. David Galenson, 2000. "The Careers of Modern Artists," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 24(2), pages 87-112, May.
    4. David W. Galenson & Bruce A. Weinberg, 2000. "Age and the Quality of Work: The Case of Modern American Painters," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 761-777, August.
    5. Victor Ginsburgh & Sheila Weyers, 2006. "Creativity and Life Cycles of Artists," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 30(2), pages 91-107, September.
    6. David W. Galenson & Bruce A. Weinberg, 2001. "Creating Modern Art: The Changing Careers of Painters in France from Impressionism to Cubism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1063-1071, September.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. What did two centuries of war do to classical music?
      by Chris Blattman in Chris Blattman on 2011-04-12 16:55:11


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    Cited by:

    1. Borowiecki, Karol Jan, 2013. "Geographic clustering and productivity: An instrumental variable approach for classical composers," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 94-110.

    More about this item


    productivity; conflict; war; innovation; composer;

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • F51 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Conflicts; Negotiations; Sanctions
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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