Why do Musicians Rarely Become Rich?

Today’s post at A Close Shake comes to us from a guest author, Jerome Cardan. Jerome is an established writer of mathematics, medicine and astrology (oops, probably shouldn’t have shared that one, sorry J.) He is also an Italian with a slight flair for the dramatic in prose.

Why do musicians rarely become rich?

(That is to say) we except those who serve under kings, for “to have pleased rulers is not the final reward.”

Is it because the art is esteemed lightly and is not a necessity of life, so that it is considered servile and unworthy of large gifts? Or is it because its practitioners, addicted to sensual pleasure and gluttony, squander money as fast as they make it? Or is it because the art loses favor on account of their youth? Since the age of youth is a little foolish and despised, is every advantage lost for that reason? Or is it because in their capriciousness they cannot keep friends or possessions?

Yet all human endeavors, especially those pertaining to wealth, require time for their acquisition.
Or is it because music is opposed to prudence, as wealth demands great prudence in its retention and especially in its disposition, or because those who had been poor from the beginning have worked hard to become accomplished, yet only improve their poverty with difficulty?

Or does this happen in our areas because of the great number of musicians in them? For in various ways their practice and employment is hindered, so that they are frequently without work.

A musician has so many obstacles, so much time is required for practice that produces weariness rather than pleasure. Something is always lacking, the perfection that is a necessary end, and consequently material gain.

Or is it because those who take pleasure in the art are foolish adolescents who have little money and who are equipped to go into other activities that are more physical in nature?

Jerome Cardan
from Liber de ludo aleae
c.1526, first published 1663
Jerome’s Website: Click Me

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