WFMT’s Classical Conversations With Pianist Norman Malone and the Creators of the ‘For the Left Hand’ Doc

By Keegan Morris |

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At the tender age of 79, Norman Malone made his orchestral debut, performing Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand with the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

Ravel's piece is one of the most prominent — but not the only — works written exclusively for the left hand, and in recent years, that repertoire has grown, in part because of Norman Malone.

Malone grew up an avid pianist, building upon an interest in the instrument that was sparked at age 5. When he was ten, however, Malone suffered a tragic injury at the hands of his father. The attack left Malone paralyzed on the right side of his body. His physical disability made a career with the piano more difficult, but Malone stayed involved with music. He worked as a music teacher at Chicago Public Schools for nearly 35 years, making an enduring mark on hundreds upon hundreds of his students. Then, Malone's career changed entirely when his story caught the attention of former Chicago Tribune writer Howard Reich.

WFMT welcomed Malone, as well as Reich, who served as the documentary's writer and producer, and the film's co-director and editor Leslie Simmer for a memorable, invigorating discussion.