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Claims 'Piano Man' mystery solved


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Piano Man

LONDON, England -- British police and social workers say they are no closer to finding out the identity of the mysterious so-called "Piano Man" despite claims he is a classically-trained Czech musician called Tomas Strnad.

Britain's Mail on Sunday newspaper published pictures of Strnad as a teenage keyboard player which they said showed "an uncanny resemblance" to the mystery man.

"Piano Man" stunned carers with a four-hour virtuoso piano performance after he was found wandering aimlessly near a beach on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, southern England, more than seven weeks ago.

He was wearing a waterlogged dinner suit and tie, from which all the labels had been cut out.

He had apparently lost his memory has not spoken a word since.

On Sunday the Mail on Sunday newspaper quoted Klaudius Kryspin, a fellow member of the Prague tribute band Ropotamo 20 years ago, as saying: "When I saw the picture I know it was Tomas."

Friends told the paper Strnad's age -- around 35 -- matched that of the Piano Man and he was a classically trained pianist whose first love was always Chopin, Mozart and Liszt.

Kryspin's twin brother Richard, a computer analyst in Columbus, Ohio -- the band's guitarist -- told the paper Strnad had mental problems.

He said he saw the story about Strnad on CNN.

"Straight away I said: 'Wow this is an old friend of mine.' There was no doubt in my mind at all. The picture on the screen was obviously him. I was completely shocked."

"Piano Man" recently had an upright piano installed in his room at the secure north Kent mental health unit where he is being held and doctors have been considering using music and art therapy to try and communicate with him.

More than 1,100 people worldwide have contacted a special help line set up to try and identify the man and 250 possible names and a number of different nationalities have been suggested.

A National Missing Persons Helpline spokeswoman told the UK's Press Association Sunday: "We have heard about this chap but we have had 250 names suggested to us so it's just another one that we have got to look into.

"Everybody is excited about this but we don't know until we look into it properly.

"We have got lots of possible names we are going through. No one of these is standing out at the moment. Many of them could be plausible.

"It's another one to add to the list."

Ten days ago police in Rome said a Polish mime artist had identified the pianist found as a French musician from Nice named Steve Massone, although Massone's family has denied this.

An Italian Web site said the man could be Martin Sturefalt, a touring classical pianist from Sweden who had previously studied in London.

All efforts to communicate with the shy and agitated man, said to be in his 20s or early 30s, have failed, leaving experts baffled over his identity.

Staff at Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham gave the tall, blonde man a pen and paper in the hope he would write his name or draw his country's flag.

Instead, he drew highly detailed pictures of a grand piano, showing not only the keys, but also the intricate inner workings of the instrument.

When shown a piano in the hospital chapel, he played classical music "beautifully." Since then, he has written music, but remains mute.

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 could get through to him.

The case has drawn comparisons with the Oscar-winning 1996 film Shine, which tells the moving story of acclaimed pianist David Helfgott who suffered a nervous breakdown while playing.


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