“Can’t act. Balding. Can dance a little.”

Bob Landry, Fred Astaire in “Puttin’ on the Ritz” (1945) (source)

The quote in the title of this post is probably one you’ve heard before–it was supposedly said about Fred Astaire in one of his early screen tests for RKO Radio Pictures. Little did RKO know at the time that Astaire’s career as a Hollywood star would soon skyrocket.

Music is like any other art: if you’re putting yourself out there, you will likely face rejection and elimination far more often than you will face acceptance letters and first prizes. But this list of rejection letters–to artists, musicians, and writers whose works are now known worldwide–may boost your morale by providing behind-the-scenes perspective to modern success stories. This isn’t an unrealistic, feel-good, overblown motivational speech with the message of, “Keep trying! You could be the next Evgeny Kissin/Meryl Streep/Joshua Bell/Jackson Pollock!” But it should encourage you to know that even the best of the best face rejection and failure. It should motivate you to know that, despite the fact that some people may not appreciate what you have to offer, you can make it work for yourself in your field, with enough determination, creativity, and flexibility.

Fall seven times, get up eight.

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