The Heliotrope Bouquet by Scott Joplin and Louis Chauvin

William Peterson

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Eric Overmyer's The Heliotrope Bouquet by Scott Joplin and Louis Chauvin, directed by Yale Rep's new artistic director Stan Wojewodski, received its West Coast premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse, where it was the second work to be staged in the new Mandell Weiss Forum. The only piano piece co-written by the two ragtime greats, "Heliotrope Bouquet" provides a catalyst for much of the play's dramatic action. Scott Joplin, afflicted with syphilis and nearing the end of a difficult life, spins a mem- ory play, one based on his association with the "natural genius" Louis Chauvin. Only musicologists are likely to recall that Chauvin was at one time considered the equal of Joplin, perhaps even his superior. The reason Joplin's music survives while Chauvin is remembered for a single, hauntingly beautiful theme is quite simple; Joplin wrote down his music and had it published by a white man, while the illiterate Chauvin was unable even to write his own name. "The Heliotrope Bouquet" is the only theme attributed to Chauvin that was ever written down.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-404
Number of pages2
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1992
Externally publishedYes


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