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Musical birds of a feather, when together, live ∼7.2 weeks less

Vincenzo_belliniArtists of all kinds often tend to cluster together (think Montmartre etc.) bringing the benefits of collaboration, interaction and inspiration. But what if there are just too many? For composers, in Paris or Vienna for example, there could be competition for limited resources such as concert halls. In other words they might incur high stress levels, and accumulate ‘frenemies’, a situation which could, conceivably, in some cases, prove fatal. “[…] A one percent increase in the number of composers reduces composer longevity by ∼7.2 weeks.” – say authors professor Karol Jan Borowieckia (Department of Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark) and Dr. Georgios Kavetsos (Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics) who have performed an in-depth analysis of just such a scenario, published in: Social Science & Medicine, Volume 134, June 2015, Pages 30–42. ‘In fatal pursuit of immortal fame: Peer competition and early mortality of music composers’

“We extract data for 144 music composers born in the 19th century and calculate four measures that approximate peer competition: (1) the average number of peers residing in the same location and time; (2) the lifetime average share of peers located in the same location and time; (3) the share of a composer’s life spent in one of the main locations for music, where peer group size – and thus competition – is potentially at its highest; and (4) the quality of fellow composers (calculated as the sum of quality indices of all composers located in the same location and time).“

Based on the findings :

“One could calculate the longevity loss as a result of a one percentage increase in the number of composers located in the city; this would imply a sensible, yet non-negligible shorter duration of life by 10 weeks.”

Their paper may be found in its entirety here.

Note: The picture shows composer Vincenzo Salvatore Carmelo Francesco Bellini who spent time in both Paris and Vienna, and who died at the early age of just 34.

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