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Sun, 03.13.1881

Louis Chauvin, Ragtime Pianist born

Louis Chauvin

*Louis Chauvin was born on this date in 1881.  He was a Black ragtime musician.  Born in St. Louis, Missouri, of a Mexican, Native American father and a Black mother, he was one of the finest pianists in the St. Louis area at the turn of the century.

He was part of the ragtime community that met at Tom Turpin's Rosebud bar, along with Joe Jordan and others. Chauvin left only three published compositions and died without having recorded them, so his ability is hard to judge today. However, his peers long remembered him as an exceptionally gifted performer and composer. He is primarily remembered today for "Heliotrope Bouquet," the rag in which he shares compositional credit with Scott Joplin: the nature of the music seems to indicate that Chauvin provided the basis for the first two strains, while Joplin wrote the last two, and edited the work into a cohesive piece, due to the debilitating effects of Chauvin's illness.  

Louis Chauvin died in Chicago at 27 on March 26, 1908.  His death certificate lists the cause of death as "multiple sclerosis, probably syphilitic," and starvation due to coma. However, a modern diagnosis would probably conclude he had neurosyphilis sclerosis and not link it to multiple sclerosis.  He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.  He is considered the second member of the 27 Club after Alexandre Levy died at the age of sixteen years earlier.  

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