Search continues for identity of mute pianist

British authorities said on Wednesday they have received more than 500 calls to help them identify a mystery piano player who was found wandering on an English beach last month, but have still not found out who he is.

Adrian Lowther, a spokesperson for West Kent National Health Service, which has been trying to solve the mystery with the police, said it is only “speculation” that the man could be French.

Rome police said a Polish mime artist identified the mysterious mute pianist found on a southern English beach as a French musician from Nice named Steve Massone, but Massone’s family denied the report.

“The amnesiac is not Steve, I saw my brother yesterday in Nice,” Julie Villa Massone said on Wednesday, while the man’s cousin Denis said he had spoken with the man earlier on Wednesday by telephone.

Witnesses said they saw Massone perform on Tuesday in front of Nice’s main courthouse, as he does nearly every day, according to his family.

Lowther said: “We can’t confirm that the name is correct or that the man is French. We need to get through the information and try to corroborate that report.”

He confirmed a report that the man pointed to a Swedish flag, but said he did not want to read anything into that.

British police are sifting through more than 500 responses to an appeal for information to help identify the young, blond-haired man who was found, soaked to the skin but fully dressed in an elegant black suit, on April 7.

He has not spoken since, and has not responded to written appeals while being kept under observation at a mental health hospital.

Investigators have been further stumped by the fact that all the labels in his black suit and white shirt had been removed.

But the man, seemingly in his late 20s or early 30s, has fascinated social workers and the public through his one means of communication: playing classical piano music.

Workers at the Medway Maritime hospital in Kent failed to elicit any details from the patient, who appears anxious around strangers, when he was admitted to their care.

But when given a pen and paper, in the hopes he would write his name, the man instead drew a detailed sketch of a grand piano.

Workers invited him to play on the chapel piano, where he gave a virtuoso performance.

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 has been able to get him to talk.

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

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