‘Japan’s Beethoven’ admits fraud

Deaf composer Mamoru Samuragochi says that he hired someone else to write his music

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The 50-year-old Japanese classical composer, Mamoru Samuragochi, has confessed to not writing his own music since 1996. The composer’s lawyer has indicated that he is ‘deeply sorry as he has betrayed fans and disappointed others’.

This admission has cast a long shadow over the authenticity of many of the classical works attributed to Samuragochi. He is most famous for his Symphony No. 1 (2003) which was a tribute to the victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. The work later became informally known as the ‘Symphony of Hope’ after the composer met survivors of the 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami in Tohoku. It sold more than 100,000 copies in Japan.

He became known worldwide, after a 2001 article in Time magazine labelled the composer as the ‘digital-age Beethoven’.

Samuragochi rose to fame with classical compositions that were used in the video game industry on titles such as Onimusha in the 1990s. He claims he has been suffering from a degenerative ear condition since his youth and Japanese TV Network NHK quoted the composer as saying: ‘I had to ask the person to help me for more than half the work because the ear condition got worse… I started hiring the person to compose for me around 1996, when I was asked to make movie music for the first time.’

This revelation has caused embarrassment to a competitor at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. In his routine, the Japanese figure-skater Daisuke Takahashi is due to include Sonatina for Violin – a composition that, until now, was believed to have been composed by Samuragochi.

The real composer of the works has not been officially named. But part-time music teacher Takashi Niigaki has come forward, in the Japanese media, claiming to have been hired as the composer’s ghost writer for the last 18 years.