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Old 11-26-2012, 03:13 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Explaining famous composers' productivity!

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am writing in order to draw you attention to my unusual (economic) research on the history of classical composers and their music.

In a recent paper I estimate the causal gain of locating in important centres for music (such as Paris in XIX century) on the production of classical composers. I find that composers who worked in geographic clusters have composed approximately one additional work of significance every three years. I further find that the disclosed productivity gains are attributed to peer effects, that is, the interaction that took place between composers in geographic clusters. The paper is forthcoming in the Journal of Urban Economics, a top-field outlet:

Geographic Clustering and Productivity: An Instrumental Variable Approach for Classical Composers, Journal of Urban Economics, 2013, 73: 94-110.

Please get in touch if you have any comments on these...
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:20 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hello karol! Welcome to MusicBanter.

I'm fascinated by the process of creativity and so your paper's findings interest me. It makes sense that composers might be more prolific when they are inspired by contact with other composers.

I read the abstract of your paper here ( EconPapers: Geographic clustering and productivity: An instrumental variable approach for classical composers ) and have a few questions:

(1) Did you somehow measure the frequency of interactions among composers in Paris, such as through personal letters describing meetings or composers' known presence at performances of their compatriots' compositions? Or are you simply using the number of composers who were present in the city at a given time and correlating that with the number of works completed by composers residing there?

(2) How did you define a "cluster" of composers? I'm assuming you based your definition on the number of composers, their fame at the time, and their productivity level? (Would you consider many less capable composers to be a cluster, or only a few very accomplished, "prominent" composers?)

(3) Do you know why various composers chose to move to a large, musical city such as Paris as opposed to a large city that had fewer composers? Was this choice affected by personal desire (perhaps a greater desire to connect with other composers) or by the composers' affluence?

I am wondering if the productivity effect you see might result more from the composers' *desire* to connect with other composers rather than from the fact that the composers actually moved and had contact with their colleagues/competitors.

Perhaps the more productive composers were the ones who wished to interact with other composers, whether or not they actually had a chance to. Might their move to Paris reflect this inner drive to connect with other composers, where their inner drive is the cause of their greater productivity? If so, then the fact that they moved to Paris might not be the important variable but rather the fact that they *wanted* to move.

(4) Have you looked at composers' creative output before and after their move to a city to see what effect the move actually had on their productivity? Were composers who moved to Paris also showing higher productivity before the move compared to fellow composers who moved to cities without composer clusters? Did the move to Paris usually correlate with seeking or having funding there, such that the composers who moved had more *time* to be creative?

(5) You wrote in the abstract that "the best composers and those who migrated to Paris appear to be the greatest beneficiaries of clustering." How did you define what makes a composer "the best"?

Congratulations on your progress in teasing apart various factors influencing composers' music output!

I often wonder what allows one person's creativity to flourish while that of another person (with equal or perhaps greater "native" abilities) languishes. I expect there is some interplay among wealth, innate creative spark, and a person's friendships. For example, I assume that those people with more wealth have more free time in which to be creative, yet a composer without friendships providing competition and inspiration might have no audience in mind and thus might feel less stirred to be creative.
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