Mysterious 'Piano Man' in England Still Not Identified, Though Many Offer Clues
Thursday, May 19, 2005
By Sue Leeman
LONDON ó Callers have rung from as far away as Australia and Canada offering information about "Piano Man," Britain's silent hospital patient who loves to play Tchaikovsky ó but he has yet to be identified, health officials said Wednesday [May 18].
Michael Camp, the man's social worker, acknowledged claims by a Polish immigrant in Rome who believes "Piano Man" is a French street musician ó but said officials will continue to follow up on more than 600 calls they have received.
"I'm concerned that we don't just stop at the step of this particular person," Camp told reporters. "He might be him but at the same time he might not be."
Italian police reported that Polish mime artist Dariusz Dydymski had approached them claiming the pianist ó found wandering, distraught and soaking wet, on the Isle of Sheppey in southeast England on April 7 ó is Steven Villa Masson, a pianist with whom he worked in the French resort of Nice.
Hospital officials on Monday [May 16] released a photograph of the man, who is tall and thin with blonde hair and believed to be in his 20s or early 30s.
He has not said a word since being found, but has drawn an intricate picture of pianos for staff at the Medway Maritime Hospital at Gillingham, where he was first taken, and happily played on the chapel piano, performing snippets of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and the music of John Lennon. Now being cared for at a psychiatric unit in Dartford, he is regularly playing a piano provided for him by a tabloid newspaper.
Adrian Lowther, a spokesman for the West Kent National Health Service Trust, which is caring for the man, said officials have received "calls and e-mails from people from Australia, Canada, Sweden, Holland" as well as the report from Italy. "They are just suggestions and they will now be looked at and until we do we can't rule any of them in or out," he said.
Italian police say they have taken a statement from Dydymski which will be passed to British authorities.
The British press has likened "Piano Man's" case to the Oscar-winning 1996 movie Shine, about acclaimed pianist David Helfgott, who suffered a nervous breakdown while playing. But the man seems to be nothing more than an accomplished amateur.
Camp, the social worker, says he remains very anxious and uncommunicative, only seeming to relax when at the piano keyboard.
Hospital staff have already ruled out reports that he recently attended a funeral locally. Interpreters from Poland, Latvia and Lithuania were brought in to see if he was from Eastern Europe, and possibly an asylum seeker, but no one was able to get through to him.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.