‘Japan’s Beethoven’ admits using ghost composer

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A photo taken in December 2013 shows deaf composer Mamoru Samuragoch in Hiroshima, western Japan. AFP PHOTO

A photo taken in December 2013 shows deaf composer Mamoru Samuragoch in Hiroshima, western Japan. AFP PHOTO

TOKYO: A deaf composer dubbed Japan’s Beethoven confessed on Wednesday to hiring someone to write his most iconic works, leaving duped broadcaster NHK red-faced, and casting a cloud over a figure skater set to dance to his music in Sochi.

Mamoru Samuragochi, 50, shot to fame in the mid-1990s with classical compositions that provided the soundtrack to video games including Resident Evil, despite having had a degenerative condition that affected his hearing.

Samuragochi, who has also spells his name Samuragoch, became completely deaf at the age of 35 but continued to work, notably producing “Symphony No.1, Hiroshima,” a tribute to those killed in the 1945 atomic bombing of the city.

In 2001, Time magazine published an interview with him, calling him a “digital-age Beethoven.”


“I listen to myself,” Samuragochi told the magazine. “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 catastrophe.

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.

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, known informally as the symphony of hope.

But on Wednesday morning the composer’s life was revealed to have been a fraud, and an NHK anchor offered a fulsome apology for having aired the documentary.

“Through his lawyer, Mamoru Samuragochi confessed early Wednesday that he had asked another composer to create his iconic works,” said the anchor.

“NHK has reported on him in news and features programs but failed to realize that he had not composed the works himself, despite our research and checking.”

AFP

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