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Ghost Composer for ‘Japan’s Beethoven’ Steps Out From Shadows

The day after a deaf composer hailed as Japan’s Beethoven admitted he did not write all of his music, his ghostwriter publicly apologized for the deception and suggested the composer might not be deaf after all.

“I am an accomplice in the deceit for allowing myself to continue writing for him under his instructions,” said Takashi Niigaki, a lecturer at Toho Gakuen School of Music.

On Wednesday, 50-year-old Mamoru Samuragochi said he did not compose all the works attributed to him, including a piece that is expected to be used by a Japanese figure skater during the Sochi Olympics.

Image: File photo of Mamoru Samuragochi, a famous Japanese classical composer who has been called "Japan's Beethoven", posing with a CD of Symphony No. 1 "Hiroshima"
Mamoru Samuragochi poses with a CD of Symphony No. 1 "Hiroshima" in this 2011 file photo. KYODO / Reuters

Niigaki explained that the arrangement with Samuragochi began 18 years ago when he was asked to orchestrate music for film and video games for Samuragochi. Since then, Niigaki says he wrote more than 20 pieces and was paid just 7 million yen ($68,950) for his work.

In all the years, Niigaki worked with Samuragochi, he said he never believed him to be deaf, a claim Samuragochi's lawyer refutes.

Realizing that his music was being used by Japanese figure skater and medal hopeful Daisuke Takahashi prompted him to end the charade.

"I was concerned that if left alone, Mr. Takahashi, who is expected to represent Japan and excel at the Olympics, will be used to solidify the deception created by myself and Samuragochi,” he said. "After much thought, I wanted Takahashi to know this fact and participate in the Olympics in a dignified manner."