NOTE: In my interview of Emmy Award winning composer Jeff Beal (House of Cards, Monk, Pollock, Ugly Betty) he talked about composing music, his diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, and his success with the controversial (and non FDA approved) procedure, CCSVI.
It’s an uplifting story about a man born with the gift for making music, who wanted to overcome obstacles and continue to be a good husband, father and composer.
My family was eagerly anticipating a new television show about a famous San Francisco obsessive-compulsive detective who had an uncanny ability to solve hundreds of seemingly unsolvable murders. After an endless stream of commercials, the show was set to begin.
My first recollection of watching Monk was not of the show itself, but of the first few melodious notes played on an acoustic guitar that was reminiscent of Django Reinhardt.
The melody was instantly engaging. Deeply rooted in jazz, its sweet and tender notes seemed to guilelessly wrap themselves around the gentle yet tragic main character. In other words, the score was perfect.
How often do you watch a TV show and fall in love with the music?
There are a handful of theme songs that are memorable – Hawaii Five-O, All In The Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I Love Lucy and Cheers.
After the first episode of Monk was over, I waited to read the end credits to see who the musical genius was behind the score.
Enter Jeff Beal.
An Amazon.com review of the Monk soundtrack said it best:
“Composer Jeff Beal picks up the many loose threads of the lovably obsessed gumshoe’s personality and weaves them into one of contemporary television’s most consistently pleasing jazz-rooted scores. Anchored by a jaunty, guitar-driven theme…that invokes the carefree verve of Django Reinhardt..”
I dug deeper to find out more about Mr. Beal. It didn’t surprise me to learn he had a long and varied list of musical accomplishments.
As a versatile composer of music, he combines different genres to write the soundtracks for films (Pollock, Appaloosa) and television shows (Ugly Betty, House of Cards, Monk). He also is a highly regarded jazz instrumentalist who composed music long before a request from Chick Corea came his way to score a concerto for bassist John Patittucci.
His first critical acclaim came from the musical score of Ed Harris’ Pollock, and has since been nominated for eight Emmy Awards, winning three of them with TNT’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes Battleground, USA’s main theme for Monk and the documentary Peggy and Dorothy which aired during the 2002 Winter Olympics.
He currently writes the musical score for Netflix’s original production of House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey.
Life was good for Jeff Beal.
In October 2012, an article in The New York Times appeared about a controversial Multiple Sclerosis “cure” called CCSVI (chronic cerebralspinal venous insufficiency).
Dr. Paolo Zamboni, an Italian vascular surgeon “hypothesized that the real cause of MS was something called ‘chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI).’” He contended that veins were being blocked, preventing blood from draining from the head, causing iron to back up into the brain and causing damage to the nerves that sends signals to the body.
Dr. Zamboni developed a procedure that would surgically open veins in people with MS, restoring normal blood flow to the brain. Some of the MS and medical community were up in arms over this new and controversial theory. MS has always been thought of as an autoimmune disease. This new school of thought was unthinkable. Many thought it was a scam. (NOTE: CCSVI is not FDA approved.)
Yet many patients began telling stories about the CCSVI procedure helping them regain the ability to walk and function more normally.
One of the patients quoted in The New York Times article was Jeff Beal.
In 2009, Beal began to suffer troubling issues such as brain fog, fatigue and difficulty when walking. He received the shattering news that he was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.
Beal wondered how he would continue being a good father and husband to his wife, Joan. He felt his life was slipping away.
According to The New York Times article, “Jeff recalls that after his diagnosis, Joan immediately launched into hypervigilant great-wife mode and began researching the disease and interacting with M.S. patients online.” She wasn’t happy with the answers she was receiving from the medical profession, and was equally unhappy that no doctor was able to predict whether or not Jeff’s MS would become progressively worse.
After conducting her own research, Joan came across Dr. Zamboni and his “controversial cure.” Jeff became excited at the prospect of feeling better and immediately asked, “Where do I sign up?”
In May 2009, Beal became the first person in United States to receive the CCSVI treatment. He added, “I was awake during the procedure and it was incredible. Halfway through, I felt less brain fog, more clarity, less fatigue and more alert.” When the procedure was over, he was ecstatic. He began to feel like his old self again.
This was great news for Jeff Beal. This quiet man who loves to work in his private music studio at home got a second chance at life. Now he’s able to spend time doing what he loves most – sharing quality time with his wife and children.
And, of course, composing and listening to the music he loves and treasures.
I look forward to listening to the next Jeff Beal composition. His journey has begun anew, with the gift of writing his own unique style of music fully intact, ready for all to enjoy.
What do you think about CCSVI?