Music and longevity


This paper outlines data on the mean age of death of 8755 musicians (7371 men and 1404 women), who were all of various specializations: composers, conductors, singers, pianists, violinists, organists, etc. Women lived longer than men in all studied categories (p < 0.02). In the male sample, the long-livers were conductors (71.1 years, n = 1435), cellists (70.0 years, n = 260), and violinists (70.0; n = 735), while the shortest life spans were registered for rock musicians (45 years; n = 421) and singer-songwriters (54 years; n = 428). The top long-livers among women were harpists (80.9 years, n = 32), harpsichordists (79.9 years, n = 17), and conductors (79.6 years, n = 24). Meanwhile, the lowest longevity results were associated with women rock musicians (37.7 years, n = 37), singer-songwriters (49.6 years, n = 67), and guitarists (54.4 years, n = 9). Women score significantly higher than men in the relative number of long-livers, with 43.75% of harpists living to the age of 90 and beyond, which also applies to 29.17% of conductors and 19.50% of violinists. Meanwhile, no one has achieved this age in the sample of female rock musicians and guitarists. In the male sample, the 90-year age was achieved by 7.3% of violinists, 6.62% of conductors, and 6.54% of cellists. There were no nonagenarians among the male rock musicians. A correlation was established between a musician’s longevity and public recognition. For example, male composers awarded with the honorable title People’s Artist of Russia (USSR or RSFSR) turned out to live longer by 8.7 years and their female peers lived 18.1 years longer compared to their nonhonored colleagues. Among conductors, the difference was 2.4 years for men and 9.9 years for women; male opera singers lived 5.3 years more and female opera singers lived 6.6 years more than nonhonored vocalists. People’s Artists among male pop singers lived 8 years longer than nonhonored colleagues, and the same difference among female pop singers was more than 20 years (20.1 years).

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Correspondence to G. M. Zharinov.

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Original Russian Text © G.M. Zharinov, V.N. Anisimov, 2014, published in Uspekhi Gerontologii, 2014, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 284–290.

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Zharinov, G.M., Anisimov, V.N. Music and longevity. Adv Gerontol 4, 283–289 (2014).

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  • musicians
  • mean age of death
  • longevity