Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Discussion Papers of Business and Economics,
University of Southern Denmark, Department of Business and Economics

No 20/2013: How Are You, My Dearest Mozart? Well-being and Creativity of Three Famous Composers Based on their Letters

Karol Jan Borowiecki ()
Additional contact information
Karol Jan Borowiecki: Department of Business and Economics, Postal: University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark

Abstract: 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.

Keywords: Well-being; happiness; positive emotions; negative emotions; creativity; health; labor; composer; letters; methodology; music history

JEL-codes: D60; I31; J24; N33; Z11

52 pages, First version: December 17, 2013. Revised: April 7, 2016.

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