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Blue Ridge Quickstep
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Francis Buck. Blue Ridge Quick Step.
Richmond: P. H. Taylor, 1847.

The Library of Virginia has a large collection of sheet music, much of it by composers of local or regional fame. Little is known about German-born Francis Buck, although he composed numerous quicksteps and waltzes for the pianoforte between 1844 and 1848 dedicated to Virginians. His Mediterranean Waltz, published in 1848 by P. H. Taylor, lists him as a professor of music living in Richmond. In all likelihood, Buck taught music privately or at one of the city's academies. P. H. Taylor, a publisher and flute player, published several of Buck compositions, including Le Carnival de Venise; Quick Step (1847) and The Jewel Waltz (1848), copublished with a New York firm. The cover of the Blue Ridge Quick Step bears the stamp of William L. Montague's music store, which stood at 158 Main Street, next door to Taylor's establishment.

James A. Cowardin (1811-1882), to whom the Blue Ridge Quick Step was dedicated, was a prominent newspaper editor and publisher in antebellum Virginia. The reason for the dedication is unclear. Perhaps Cowardin's roots in western Virginia or an undocumented connection to a volunteer militia unit inspired the piece. Francis Buck composed several paeans to the victorious American forces during the Mexican War, including the Vera Cruz Grand March (1847), one of more than fifty arrangements and compositions by Buck found in the Library's holdings. Buck died suddenly in 1848 at the age of 27. The Richmond Enquirer eulogized him "as a musician of high order," and lamented that "the beauty of his compositions was just gaining throughout the United States that praise which he justly merited."