Life Chronicles

On 13 June 1923, Shostakovich passed his final piano exam with a grade of 5+ [equivalent of an A+].

Graduating from the Petrograd Conservatoire: Piano Class.
Work as a Pianist in cinemas: “Bright Reel”, “Splendid Palace” and “Picadilly”.
Illness and Journey to the Crimea.
Composing a Scherzo for Orchestra (op. 7).
December 13th: First Performance of the Trio (op. 8).

“Shostakovich’s playing is striking for the serene confidence of genius. These words apply to Shostakovich’s playing, but also to his composing. His rich imagination, surprising conviction and confidence in his own work... and all this at age 17.”

“In order to start work I had to pass a test to qualify as a pianist for the silent cinema. First I was asked to play ‘The Bue Waltz’ and after that something with an oriental flavour. <...> The test went well and in November I started working in the ‘Bright Reel’ cinema.”

July 23, 1923

“I hereby confirm that D. Shostakovich, graduate from the Petrograd Conservatoire, possesses outstanding and diverse musical and artistic gifts. He has a striking talent for composition, which manifested itself very early. In spite of his youth (he is not yet 17) Shostakovich has a polished command of the techniques of composition. Over and above that he is a brilliant and mature pianist. There is no doubt that Shostakovich has an outstanding musical career ahead of him. Unfortunately, however, his health has let him down. He has been diagnosed as having TB of the glands and he has been sent to the Crimea by his doctors for treatment. It would be highly desirable to take immediate measures to help this remarkable young artist achieve a complete recovery by providing him with material help. The death of such a person would be an irrevocable loss for world art.”

August 1923
Maria Shostakovich:

“... he grew taller, got sunburnt, is in good spirits and in love... The girl is a strange and coquettish creature. I don’t like her, but it’s always difficult to please a sister.”

August 3, 1923. Crimea, the town of Koreiz.

“My dear Mamma!
<...> You write that I should be careful and should not lose my head. On that subject I should like to do a little philosophizing. Love of the flesh... is so disgusting, that I do not even want to talk about it. I think you would never have thought about me like that. There is no difference between people and animals when it comes to that. If, for instance, a wife stops loving her husband and gives herself to another man she has fallen in love with and inspite of social prejudice they start living together, there is nothing wrong about that. On the contrary, it’s even good that Love should be really free. Vows made in front of the altar ... are the most terrible part of religion. Love cannot last for a long time. The best thing one could imagine is the complete abolition of marriage, namely of all the chains and duties that accompany love. This of course is a Utopia. If there is no marriage, there will be no family. That of course, would be very bad. One thing can be said for certain though - love is not free. Mamma dear, I must warn you that if I do fall in love one day I may well not try to tie myself down through marriage. Yet if I do marry and my wife falls in love with someone else, I shall not say pure word. If she wants a divorce, I shall give it to her and take the blame on myself. <...> Yet at the same time, there is the noble vocation of parenthood. When you start thinking about all this, your head is ready to explode. In any case, Love should be free!
Dear Mamma, please forgive me for speaking to you like this. In this case I am not writing to you like a son, but as one philosopher to another. <...>I should be very pleased if you would write me a few words on this subject. Depravity ... is when a man buys a woman for money. Besides this there is free love and compulsory depravity.
Kisses from your loving son, Mitya.”

August 19, 1923
Maria Shostakovich:

“Today Mitya is playing in Alupka and will be paid a billion...”