GET MIDI "Heliotrope Bouquet" LISTEN

Performer:John Roache
Composer:Scott Joplin & Louis Chauvin
Arranged by:John Roache

Here is "Heliotrope Bouquet" - a slow drag two-step by Scott Joplin and Louis Chauvin. This collaboration is one of only three published melodies composed by Chauvin, a dissipated young Creole composer and pianist. Lauded as one of the finest pianists of his era, it is sad that no more of his music survives.

Chauvin was born and raised in St. Louis and, like so many of the ragtime piansts of the day, had no formal training but posessed that rare, natural talent for playing and composition. Blesh and Janis in "They All Played Ragtime" (Oak Publications, New York) report Chauvin's friend Sam Patterson's recollections of Chauvin - "He had lots of original tunes of his own - never had names for them. He would sit right down and compose a number with three or four strains. By tomorrow it's gone and he's composing another. You can talk about harmony - no one could mistake those chords. Chauv was so far ahead with his modern stuff, he would be up to date now." Chauvin could neither read nor write music so all of those beautiful melodies are lost forever. He died of the ravages of syphilis at the untimely age of twenty-four.

Shortly before his death he moved to Chicago and it was here that Scott Joplin had the fortune to visit him in 1906 and heard him playing two ragtime themes which had marvelous potential. Joplin with his usual skill helped harmonize these and the result is the first two strains of Heliotrope Bouquet. To these Joplin added two ideally matching third and fourth strains. Publisher John Stark described the music as "audible poetry in motion". This composition is acknowledged as one of the finest examples of classic ragtime.

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