Arts, Culture & Media

'Japan's Beethoven' may not be deaf, and admits paying someone to write his music

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Credit: REUTERS/Kyodo/Files

Mamoru Samuragochi, a famous Japanese classical composer who has been called "Japan's Beethoven".

Here's a scandalous fall from grace for a very well-known Japanese classical music composer.

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Actually, that's just it. He isn't a composer after all, or least not anymore.

Mamoru Samuragochi was dubbed "Japan's Beethoven," but he admitted Wednesday that he actually paid someone else to compose his music since 1996.

Samuragochi apologized to his fans in a statement from his lawyer.

And now, his "ghost composer" has stepped forward.

Takashi Niigaki is a part-time music teacher in Tokyo. He held a packed news conference that aired live on Japanese TV where he said "Samuragochi was deceiving the world."

Niigaki added that he had become an "accomplice" in this deception.

He also revealed that he'd been paid about $70,000 for nearly two decades. He composed more than 20 songs.

Meanwhile, Samuragochi got all the glory -- and the royalties -- for pieces like "Symphony No. 1 Hiroshima".

The symphony is a tribute to the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima. It was a big classical hit in Japan.

Part of what made Mamoru Samuragochi such a famous composer, though, was his claim that he was deaf.

Hence the Beethoven comparisons.

But Niigaki dispelled that notion as well.

He said he and Samuragochi carried on "normal conversations," so he probably hears just fine.

But why is all of this coming out just now -- after nearly two decades of deception?

Niigaki said he decided to speak up after learning that a top Japanese figure skater would be skating to one of his pieces at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

If he let the situation be, said Niigaki, a skater representing Japan at the Olympics would become part of the lie too.

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