Mystery of the silent 'Piano Man' whose only language is music

He was found in tuxedo, white shirt and tie - from which all labels were cut. His shoes were rubbed clean of identifying marks. And in the five weeks since he was found in north Kent, walking in darkness by the sea in dripping clothes, the slightly built man with deep brown eyes has not said a word.

But he does make beautiful music. He plays the piano for hours at a time, providing repeated renditions of his own classical compositions. According to those who have heard him, he is talented - some say exceptionally so.

The "Piano Man", as he has become known, also draws - producing sketch after perfect sketch of himself and grand pianos.

He sits, incommunicado, in a locked, hospital ward close to the M25, possibly in expectation of someone claiming him as their own or offering a clue as to his identity. But those caring for the 6ft-tall virtuoso, who is in his twenties or thirties and was found on a beachside road on the Isle of Sheppey on 7 April, admitted yesterday there was a chance they would never know his real name, or where he came from.

His social worker, Michael Camp, said staff were at a loss to help a patient who seemed to have gone out of his way to ensure his own anonymity.

Mr Camp, based at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, said it was a "possiblility" his client would never be identified. "But I'm rather hoping it won't be. It's been such a long time, it would be difficult never to know. But if nobody can name this guy I don't see how we can possibly find out. Every label has been removed from his clothing so we do not know where he might have come from. In 20 years of working in mental health, I have never seen anything as severe."

His carers are working on the basis that he has suffered amnesia or a breakdown due to a sudden trauma. But they say without an identity it is impossible to offer full treatment.

The National Missing Persons Helpline and care workers said they had been inundated with calls, both from the UK and overseas, following the publication of a his picture. A number of those calls were from America. But they said claims to have identified the man, variously placing him in locations from Sussex to concert halls across Europe, were being treated with caution.

Ramanah Venkiah, manager of the health unit in Dartford where the man is being cared for, said: "He is a vulnerable young man and we must be careful."

The blond-haired enigma, who goes nowhere without a sheet of manu-script music, has given no indication as to how he came to be wandering on the seafront. Such is his fear of strangers that the picture taken of him by carers to help publicise the case had to be taken paparazzi-style from a distance.

Although he was soaking wet when found, he was physically uninjured and he remains fit and well. Initial theories that he may have been attending a funeral or playing a concert in the area have led nowhere.

Interpreters fluent in Latvian, Polish and Lithuanian who visited him to see if he was eastern European also failed to elicit a response. Theories that he is an asylum-seeker who was dropped off the Kent coast have also been dismissed.

Reports that he had drawn a Swedish flag were downplayed yesterday after it emerged that he had, in fact, drawn a flag with a cross but in pencil and with no colours. Mr Camp said: "I believe he understands English. He gives slight nods, I think to show he understands something I've said."

The man has recovered enough to cater for his basic needs, but he avoids television and radio, choosing instead to produce a detailed pencil drawing every few days of a piano casting a deep shadow from its open lid. He has also written musical script.

Staff at the West Kent NHS and Social Care Trust say his only solace is his music. Mr Camp said: "When I first saw him in Gillingham, he was left with a pencil and paper and when we came back he had drawn a perfect piano.

"We took him to the hospital chapel where there is a piano. The first time he played it was for four hours, non-stop. He plays beautifully and he sounds professional.

"If you put him in front of a piano, his whole demeanour changes. He completely relaxes and is oblivious to people around him."

Although his current accommodation does not have a piano, managers said they have provided an electronic keyboard. Among the pieces he has played are extracts from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and longer pieces that seem to be his own work.

The plight of Mr X drawn parallels with David Helfgott, the pianist whose breakdown was the subject of the 1996 film Shine, starring Geoffrey Rush, who won an Oscar for his performance.

Marjorie Wallace, head of the charity Sane, said: "It is not uncommon for the language of music to remain intact even when all other mental processes may be shattered by physical, emotional or mental trauma."

Anyone who recognises the man can contact the National Missing Persons Helpline on 0500 700 700.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Supply Teachers needed in Salford!

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Are you a ...

Nursery Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Nursery Assistants RequiredNursery Assis...

Supply Teachers needed in Bolton!

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Are you a ...

English Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Luton: ENGLISH TEACHER REQUIREDWe are ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments