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Music

Japan's 'Beethoven' neither deaf nor author of own work

A scandal mounted in Japan's classical music world in recent weeks, centered on lies told by a composer whose life seemed to parallel that of Ludwig van Beethoven. Mamoru Samuragochi issued two confessions on Friday.

A composer touted as the Beethoven of Japan had two confessions to make on Friday (07.03.2014) at his first press appearance after a mounting scandal in recent weeks. Mamoru Samuragochi said he is neither completely deaf nor did he do the bulk of the work writing his well-known symphonies and other works. Instead, he commissioned ghostwriter Takashi Niigaki, a Tokyo music lecturer who had stepped forward in early February.

"I have caused a great deal of trouble with my lies for everyone, including those people who bought my CDs and came to my concerts," the 50-year-old Samuragochi said.

The two musicians collaborated for 18 years, including on Samuragochi's popular "Hiroshima" symphony, dedicated to the victims of the nuclear attack. Samuragochi says he developed the overall concept for his works but paid Niigaki a total of about $70,000 (50,500 euros) to produce the actual scores.

His alleged deafness has proven a more contentious point. Samuragochi maintains that he suffered severe - though not complete - hearing loss, although he claims his condition has improved in recent years. At the press conference, he distributed a statement saying tests confirmed he had a hearing impairment but that he did not meet the definition of legal deafness. Niigaki had raised questions about the composer's deafness after telling reporters in early February that the two had carried on normal conversations.

Samuragochi was the one who initially came forward with a written statement to the public dated February 5 in which he said he was not the sole composer of his works, though he did not give a reason for making the confession. The following day, Niigaki confirmed Samuragochi's claims to reporters and said he had ended their collaboration in frustration at the end of 2013.

The scandal is likely to set an abrupt end to the career of the classical musician once hailed internationally both for his work and his unique personal story.

gsw / rf (AP/RTRE)

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