A deaf composer dubbed Japan’s Beethoven yesterday confessed 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 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.
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.
However, yesterday 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 yesterday that he had asked another composer to create his iconic works,” the anchor said. “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.”
“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 broadcaster quoted Samuragochi as saying 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.”
He paid for the commission, said NHK, adding the real composer has not yet responded to requests for comment.
Figure skater Daisuke Takahashi has also been caught up in the row because her program for the Sochi Olympics includes a dance to a sonatina supposedly composed by Samuragochi.
Nippon Columbia Co, which has sold his CDs and DVDs, said in a statement that the company was was “flabbergasted and deeply infuriated” by his revelation.