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Mamoru Samuragochi, a popular classical composer who was dubbed Japan’s Beethoven, has been outed as a fraud. Not only did he not write the pieces attributed to him, including a hit composition that became the anthem for the 2011 tsunami relief effort, he is also most likely not even deaf.
Samuragochi, 50, is best known for Symphony, No. 1: Hiroshima, which was written in 2003 but became an anthem after the tragic tsunami, notes The Financial Times. He also wrote another special piece that was dedicated to a girl who lost her family in the tsunami.
But it turned out to all be a fraud, one that goes back 18 years. He claimed to have written around 20 other pieces, but they were all written by another person.
On Wednesday, Samuragochi wrote a statement, admitting that he didn’t write any of the music attributed to him. Then on Thursday, Takashi Niigaki, a lecturer at a music academy, revealed that he actually wrote all of Samurgochi’s work.
“I am an accomplice of Samuragochi because I continued composing just as he demanded, although I knew he was deceiving people,” Niigaki said in a press conference, reports Australia’s ABC News. “I told him a few times that we should stop doing this, but he never gave in. Also he said he would commit suicide if I stop composing for him."
Niigaki, 43, said that he was only paid 70 million yen ($70,000) for writing the pieces over nearly two decades, notes the AFP.
Niigaki said that he decided to come clean when he heard that figure skater Daisuke Takahashi was going to use one of Samurgochi’s pieces for his program. “I was afraid that even Takahashi, who will perform in the Olympics for Japan, would be used to enforce the lies made by Samuragochi and me,” Niigaki said.
Samagorchi’s deception included claiming that he had a degenerative disease that robbed him of hearing, but Niigaki said he never had the impression that Samagorchi suffered from anything.
“At first he acted to me also as if he had suffered hearing loss, but he stopped doing so eventually,” Niigaki recalled. “He told me, after the music for the video games was unveiled, that he would continue to play the role (of a deaf person).”
The scandal has been a major story in Japan. NHK, which aired a documentary about how Samagorchi was helping tsunami victims, apologized. His label, Columbia Music Japan, also apologized.