The Rambler :: blog

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

More on 'piano man' 

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The mystery surrounding the so-called 'piano man' amnesiac who was discovered on a Kent beach last month continues, with no real progress made. Trails leading to Sweden and France have both led to nothing. As milady reckons, there may be plenty of lonely women calling the helpline spuriously claiming to be his wife. Conflicting reports in the immediate aftermath of the press conference at which his picture was released on Monday have only added to the misunderstandings, with one paper claiming that the music he played was unrecognisable, since none of the hospital staff knew enough about music; another claiming that it reminded them of the Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi who I hadn't even heard of before this week.

Hollywood, needless to say, is already considering a film, and Paul Abbott must be expecting a call from Channel 4 at any moment.

With regard to how the story has the power to capture the British imagination, Jonathan has remarked
it also says something about how people in this country continue to see music as fabulously romantic; were he not an accomplished pianist (and interestingly the tone of articles I've read has ratcheted up the description of his talents from 'adept' to 'extraordinary') but instead a poet, I wonder if he would have had the same attention.
Pedant says that a poet would have been able to write, but it's clear what Jonathan means. The comparison with Shine is lazy and ill-fitting but has already been made in at least one national newspaper. Maybe we should invoke Beethoven or Jacqueline DuPre as well; is there some low-resistance mental path that connects mental/sensory/physical breakdown and musicians in the popular conciousness? Possibly. Giving it a few moments' thought, perhaps it's something to with music's combination of the sensual, physical and intellectual - a balanced combination that none of the other arts really achieve - that makes physical or mental illness so much more affecting alongside it. In the case of the Piano Man, there is also something about music's relationship to memory that rings deep and true.

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