Man called the “Beethoven of Japan” confesses fraudulent composing

Music News & Views - February 6th, 2014

Mamoru Samuragochi, a deaf composer dubbed as Japan’s Beethoven, has confessing to hiring someone to write his music for nearly two decades.

Samuragochi (who also spells his name Samuragoch) shot to fame in the mid-1990s with classical compositions despite having had a degenerative condition that affected his hearing.

He became completely deaf at the age of 35 but continued to write music, such as soundtracks for video games such as Resident Evil and Onimusha. His most notable work, “Hiroshima Symphony No. 1,” a tribute to those killed in the 1945 atomic bombing, sold more than 100,000 copies in Japan.

In 2001, Time magazine dubbed him a “digital-age Beethoven”.

“I listen to myself,” Samuragochi said in an interview with Time. “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.”

National broadcaster NHK featured Samuragochi’s awe-inspiring story in a documentary entitled “Melody of the Soul” which aired in March last year.

The film showed the musician touring the tsunami-battered Tohoku region to meet survivors and those who lost relatives in the 2011 disaster, including a young girl whose mother was killed and became his muse for a requiem.

But Samuragochi now has to face the music of his fraud.

Samuragochi’s lawyer said the musician was “deeply sorry as he has betrayed fans and disappointed others.”

“He knows he could not possibly make any excuse for what he has done. He is mentally distressed and not in a condition to properly express his own thoughts.”

Samuragochi said he hired the person to compose music for him in 1996, when his ear condition got worse, NHK reports. The real composer has not been identified and “certain circumstances” make it hard for the person to come out in public, the lawyer said. However, a man named Takashi Niigaki came forward Wednesday, claiming he worked with Samuragochi for 18 years.

Nippon Columbia, Samuragochi’s record company, said it was “flabbergasted and deeply infuriated” by his revelation.

The scandal has cast a cloud on Japanese figure skater Daisuke Takahashi who was due to dance to Samuragochi’s “Sonatina for Violin” at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: joeriksson/Flickr