Skip to main content

'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.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The tragic killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a bitter public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 10:20 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
More than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation, Unicef has warned.
updated 8:22 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Boko Haram's latest abductions may meet a weary global reaction, Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi says.
updated 5:34 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Drops, smudges, pools of blood are everywhere -- but in the computer room CNN's Nic Robertson reels from the true horror of the Peshawar school attack.
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 9:31 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT