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'Japanese Beethoven' Mamoru Samuragochi: I can hear 'sometimes'

By Tim Hume and Junko Ogura, CNN
updated 3:40 AM EST, Wed February 12, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Disgraced "deaf composer" Mamoru Samuragochi has admitted he has some hearing
  • Composer hailed as the "Japanese Beethoven" for writing hit symphonies despite deafness
  • A Tokyo music teacher revealed he had been the ghostwriter of the music for 18 years
  • He said he did not believe Samuragochi was deaf, or could write scores at all

Tokyo, Japan (CNN) -- A once-celebrated Japanese composer who last week confessed his works were written by a ghostwriter, and subsequently had doubt cast on his claim to be deaf, now admits at least partially faking his hearing loss.

Mamoru Samuragochi, until recently hailed as a "Japanese Beethoven" for composing hit symphonies despite claiming to have been completely deaf for 15 years, made the admission in a handwritten apology sent to news organizations through his lawyers.

"I apologize from the bottom of my heart for betraying and hurting many people," he wrote, in his first public statement addressing the allegations about his hearing.

Music lecturer Takashi Niigaki admitted being the ghost-writer.
Music lecturer Takashi Niigaki admitted being the ghost-writer.
Deaf composer admits faking work

In a televised press conference last week, a Tokyo music teacher named Takashi Niigaki revealed that he had secretly been the real composer of Samuragochi's works for 18 years.

He also expressed doubt over the composer's claims of deafness -- central to his romantic public image as a genius who "felt" music he could not hear -- saying that Samuragochi had conversed with him normally, and provided critiques on the music he contracted him to write over the years.

"I've never felt he was deaf ever since we met," he said.

READ MORE: Uproar as 'Japanese Beethoven' exposed as fraud

In his written statement, Samuragochi, who is yet to publicly front over the scandal, said that he had been deaf, but in the past three years had recovered a degree of hearing.

"It has recovered to an extent where I could sometimes grasp words when someone speaks clearly and slowly close to my ears, though it sounds muffled and skewed," he wrote.

(My hearing) has recovered to an extent where I could sometimes grasp words when someone speaks clearly and slowly close to my ears.
Disgraced Japanese "composer" Mamoru Samuragochi

Stating that he planned to apologize to the public in person soon, Samuragochi added that he was prepared to have his hearing medically tested, and would forfeit his government-issued disability certificate if found ineligible.

The eight-page letter also contained apologies to tsunami victims, for whom his most famous symphony had become an important symbol of resilience, and to Japanese Olympic figure skater Daisuke Takahashi, who planned to perform to another ghostwritten work in Sochi.

Takahashi takes to the ice Thursday, and the Japanese Skating Federation has said that while the score will be used, the composer's name will be omitted from the program.

"I am deeply ashamed of living a life of lies," said Samuragochi's statement.

Samuragochi claimed to rely on his perfect pitch to compose his hit symphonies, movie scores and video game soundtracks after losing his hearing, telling TIME magazine in a 2001 interview that "if you trust your inner sense of sound, you create something that is truer... Losing my hearing was a gift from God."

When confessing that a ghostwriter had been involved in composing his most famous works, he claimed that he had provided the broader ideas for the music, while the collaborator had produced the finished scores.

But Niigaki said he did not believe Samuragochi was even capable of writing musical scores, and had threatened to kill himself if their arrangement was exposed.

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