Mysterious 'Piano Man' Goes Home to Germany
LONDON – A mysterious patient at a British hospital who did not speak for months but reportedly loved to play the piano is a German national who has been discharged and returned to his native country, officials said Monday.
The Bavarian man, who was found on a beach in southern England on April 7, was flown back to Germany on Saturday, the German Foreign Ministry said. His name was not disclosed, and the government declined to provide any other details about the man's life.
The British tabloid Daily Mirror reported Monday that the tall blond man — who remained steadfastly silent after he was found on the beach — had been released after finally identifying himself as a German who came to Britain when he lost his job in Paris.
In a blow to reports that the man performed parts of Tchaikovsky's (search) "Swan Lake" and the music of John Lennon on the Medway Maritime Hospital's (search) piano, the newspaper said the man was able only to tap repeatedly at the same piano key. Hospital staff have disputed that.
Social workers and staff from the National Missing Persons Helpline spent four months investigating hundreds of potential leads about the man's identity, including reports that he was Czech, French or Canadian.
When the "Piano Man" was first found, he was taken to the hospital in Gillingham. He was later transferred to the Little Brook Hospital (search), a mental care unit south of London.
The man was released from Little Brook after he no longer required medical care, said Adrian Lowther, a spokesman for the West Kent National Health Service and Social Care Trust (search), which runs the hospital. Lowther would not release any other details, citing patient confidentiality.
Interpreters from eastern Europe were summoned when the man was first found, but no one was able to get through to him and break his silence.
Intriguingly, all the labels had been cut out of his clothing.
The British press reported that the man was an accomplished pianist and likened the case to that of the Oscar-winning 1996 movie "Shine," about pianist David Helfgott (search), who suffered a nervous breakdown while playing.