The Beatles: Few people can deny the lasting power of this artistic group, continually popular with listeners around the world today. Yet when they were just starting out, a recording company gave them a resounding dismissal. They were told, “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
After that the Beatles signed with EMI, brought ‘Beatlemania’ to the United States, and became arguably the greatest and most influential band in history.
Ludwig van Beethoven: In his formative years, young Beethoven was incredibly unrefined on the violin and was often so busy working on his own compositions that he neglected to practice. Despite his love of composing, his teachers felt he was “hopeless”, and would never succeed with the violin or composing. It was his father who saw the potential in him and took over his education. Beethoven slowly lost his hearing throughout his life and yet, as four of his greatest works were composed when he was completely deaf.
“Beethoven can write music, thank God, because he can’t do anything else!”
– Ludwig van Beethoven
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Mozart began composing at the age of five, writing over 600 pieces of music that today are lauded as some of the best works ever created. Yet during his lifetime, Mozart’s career path was unstable, including his dismissal from a position as a court musician in Salzberg. He struggled to keep the support of the aristocracy and died with little to his name.
Elvis Presley: As one of the best-selling artists of all time, Elvis has become a household name even years after his death. However in 1954, Elvis was still struggling to make a name for himself, and Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired him after just one performance, telling him, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”
Igor Stravinsky: In 1913 when Stravinsky debuted his now famous Rite of Spring, audiences rioted, running the composer out of town. Yet it was this very work that changed the way composers in the 19th century thought about music and cemented his place in musical history.