cover image Notes from a Minor Key: A Metaphysical Memoir of Healing

Notes from a Minor Key: A Metaphysical Memoir of Healing

Dawn Bailiff, . . Hampton Roads, $22.95 (326pp) ISBN 978-1-57174-554-5

In this spiritual memoir, pianist prodigy and composer Bailiff delves into her early genius, her passion for her husband and kindred spirit, Paul, and her debilitating struggle with multiple sclerosis. Bailiff met her husband-to-be at Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory in 1986, where Paul studied composition and the author, at only 16, was a college sophomore and competition performer. The book alternates between the points of view of these two (which can be stilted), who ended up studying and working in Europe: the author became a soloist in Vienna, where she played with Leonard Bernstein's Viennese Symphony, and she and Paul married. However, a series of apparently stress-related illnesses and horrific bouts of pain culminated in her collapse onstage in 1992, and she was finally diagnosed with MS, which spelled the end of Bailiff's career. She and Paul, still living in Vienna, tried alternative therapies such as a macrobiotic diet and holistic medicine, as well as returning to their Jewish faith. With their move to Seattle and her pregnancy, Bailiff's grief only increased: their baby, David, died of heart problems at age two, and Paul committed suicide some months later. Despite the book's problematic structure, this is an astounding tale of talent and woe. (Nov.)