Research on the causes of conflict-induced migration is hindered by the lack of adequately disaggregated data. The underlying study overcomes this problem by employment of historical data on 164 prominent classical composers born after 1800. We analyze the impact of war on the probability to emigrate of composers, investigate the associated dynamics and shed light on the choice of a destination country in times of war. We find that the incidence of inter-state wars increases composers’ probability to emigrate by around seven percent and the incidence of intra-state wars by roughly nineteen percent. The results imply that conflict impacts the migration intensity with a lag of approximately one year. Furthermore, the choice of a destination country is significantly affected by the incidence of war and less efficient from a career’s point of view during war. Finally, we find heterogeneous responses to war based on individual’s quality. While the better composers are more likely to emigrate in times of peace, it is not so anymore if a war breaks out. In times of war, all artists are affected by war and are prone to emigrate.