How a mistaken ID made headlines

Claims of 'Piano Man' being Czech blamed on bad communication

A rock musician who wrongly identified a fellow Czech as the "Piano Man" — the mute pianist discovered in the UK in April and still at the center of an international riddle — has put the blame for the error on the man he named, Tomáš Strnad. Klaudius Kryšpín, a drummer with the well-known former dissident group Pražský výber, insists he acted in good faith rather than in a quest for publicity when he claimed that the mysterious, silent virtuoso is his old friend from the band.

Pražský výber frontman Michael Kocáb also told the press he believed Strnad was the Piano Man, although he did say last week he wasn't absolutely sure.

At press time, British health workers were still trying to identify the so-called Piano Man, who was found wandering on a beach in Kent April 7 and who has attracted worldwide media attention because he communicates only through playing classical music. Last week they called Kryšpín and Kocáb's testimony a significant lead.

Kryšpín told British newspapers he recognized Strnad, with whom he played in a rock group called Ropotámo in the early 1980s, from photographs published in the press. But May 31 Strnad, still in the Czech Republic, appeared on three Czech television stations to deny the claim.

"I mainly want to put this in order so that the world was not deceived any more and could see that it is someone else and not me," Strnad told Czech TV.

Kryšpín, 38, said he did not feel sheepish, adding that he had not wanted to mislead people. "He [Strnad] could have come forward or rung me up. He lives in Prague and I live in Prague. And why didn't he ring the authorities? It has been in the papers for a while and he didn't let anyone know."

Kryšpín said that pictures of the Piano Man bore a striking resemblance to Strnad. "My family said we have got to ring someone and let the authorities know that we might have a positive ID. What would you do for your friend? Forget about it and not ring anyone? That certainly wouldn't help."

Kryšpín continued that he spent six fruitless days searching for his friend, whom he had not seen for years, before going to the media.

Kocáb also insisted he acted with the best of intentions. "Had I declined to speak, I would be accused of refusing to help," Kocáb told The Prague Post.

He added that once he found Strnad's telephone number he called him straight away. "What I wonder is why Strnad or his family members didn't come forward."

A woman who answered Strnad's mobile phone but who did not identify herself declined to comment apart from saying that Strnad "has already appeared on television and that's where it ends for us."

The real Piano Man, meanwhile, has not uttered a word since being found wandering around in a soaking-wet dinner jacket from which all labels had been cut. He was given his nickname by the media because, when placed in front of a grand piano, he delivered an impressive recital lasting hours.

Health workers caring for him at a psychiatric unit in Little Brook Hospital in Dartford, southeast England, are continuing to examine some 250 names suggested for the blond stranger by callers from around the world.

Autor: Peter Kononczuk
Medio: The Prague Post
Fecha: Jueves 9 de junio de 2005
Notas: Dan Macek contributed to this report.
ID: 1669 Editar

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