Left Alone Rhapsody (opening)

“Left Alone Rhapsody” is a feature-length documentary film by Stewart M. Schulman about Leonard Bernstein protégé, John Bayles who debuted at Carnegie Hall at 25. His jaw-dropping technical prowess at the piano initiated a 30-year-long concert and recording career as a solo pianist, composer, and improvisor. At 54, a left-brain stroke immobilized his dominant right side.

Left Alone Rhapsody chronicles John’s rise from four-year-old Texas musical prodigy to international star; John’s fall post-stroke and courageous struggle to transcend paralysis; and John’s determination to reinvent himself as a one-handed musician and storyteller. The question is:  With just his left hand alone, how far will he go?  All of that is what Stewart came to Buzzco to foreshadow in a brief opening animation.   Here are his thoughts on our collaboration:

“I was looking to Candy to create an opening animation that would help us set the tone for the film—to foreshadow the arc of John’s rise and fall, and ‘hoped-for’ reinvention, without giving ‘any real specifics’ away.  Candy immediately grasped what I needed, and gently guided our team in a direction that took our ideas and improved upon them. Her final animation is conceptually clear, visually stunning, and emotionally engaging.  When we needed a second animation, (completely different in nature from the first), to help us explain the neurological differences discovered between the brains of musicians and non-musicians, Candy created something scientifically complex yet visually pleasing and accessible.  She is a joy to work with and an artist I greatly admire.”

I found this film very inspiring and this was a challenge I was delighted to take-- to try to figure out a way to introduce an audience to become engaged in this fascinating story of recovery and resilience after a major life crisis. I had a lot of fun working on it and I'm glad it was so well received!


Written, produced, and directed by
Stewart M. Schulman


Animation by

Candy Kugel

Buzzco Associates, inc.


Director of Photography
Michael Digioia


Gary Sharfin

Monika Kolodziej

Production Companies 

Act Two MediaWorks

Amaranth Productions

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