Japan's 'Beethoven' admits being a fake
A deaf composer known as Japan's 'Beethoven' has shocked the country with a confession that he hired someone else to write his most famous pieces.
Mamoru Samuragochi, 50, shot to fame in the mid-1990s despite having a degenerative condition that left him completely deaf at the age of 35.
His classical compositions provided the soundtrack to video games including Resident Evil and he notably produced "Symphony No.1, Hiroshima", a tribute to those killed in the 1945 atomic bombing of the city.
Samuragochi, who also spells his name Samuragoch, gained international renown over the years and was referred to by Time magazine in 2001 as a "digital-age Beethoven".
"I listen to myself," Samuragochi said. "If you trust your inner sense of sound, you create something that is truer. It is like communicating from the heart. Losing my hearing was a gift from God."
His reputation grew when public broadcaster NHK aired a documentary in March last year entitled "Melody of the Soul", in which it showed the musician touring the tsunami-battered Tohoku region to meet survivors and those who lost relatives in the 2011 disaster.
The film shows Samuragochi playing with a small girl whose mother was killed in the disaster and apparently composing a requiem for her, despite his own struggles with illness.
After the film was aired, viewers flocked in their tens of thousands to buy his Hiroshima piece, which became an anthemic tribute to the tsunami-hit region's determination to get back on its feet.
But now the composer has been revealed to be a fraud, leaving broadcaster and patron NHK red-faced and apologetic at its part in his story - a presenter has apologised profusely on air for having aired the documentary.
A statement issued through Samuragochi's lawyer said: "Samuragochi is deeply sorry as he has betrayed fans and disappointed others. He knows he could not possibly make any excuse for what he has done," it said.
The composer said his deception had begun nearly two decades ago.
"I started hiring the person to compose music for me around 1996, when I was asked to make movie music for the first time," he said.
"I had to ask the person to help me for more than half the work because the ear condition got worse."
Japanese Winter Olympics medal hopeful, figure skater Daisuke Takahashi, has also been caught up in the row.
Takahashi's programme in Sochi includes a dance to a sonatina allegedly composed by Samuragochi that was unveiled two years ago.
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