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By Elaine Lies
TOKYO, March 7 A composer once known as the
"Beethoven of Japan" said on Friday that tests had shown he was
not legally deaf and apologised to people throughout the country
for lying by using a ghost writer for his popular symphonies and
Mamoru Samuragochi, a classical musician who became known as
an inspirational genius for composing music despite losing his
hearing, bowed deeply before a packed news conference, his first
public appearance since the scandal broke last month.
"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," Samuragochi, 50, said, his trademark flowing hair
now trimmed in a typical businessman's cut.
A statement distributed to reporters said hearing tests had
shown that while Samuragochi's hearing was impaired, it did not
meet the requirements for legal deafness.
"I can hear sounds, but the sounds are twisted," he said.
"Hearing conversations is extremely difficult and I still need
German composer Ludwig van Beethoven began suffering hearing
loss from about age 30 and withdrew from public performances
while continuing to write music. He was almost totally deaf for
the last decade of his life.
Samuragochi collaborated with part-time university professor
Takashi Niigaki for 18 years to compose his music after
suffering hearing loss.
He said on Friday that he and Niigaki would meet in a coffee
shop in the Shinjuku entertainment district of western Tokyo and
work out how Niigaki would compose the music. Niigaki, he said,
kept negotiating for higher fees.
"I wrote out what I wanted and the general plans, then
Niigaki wrote the music," he said.
"If ultimately that means I defrauded people who bought my
CDs, then yes, I did," he said, biting his lip.
Samuragochi gained international fame for his "Hiroshima
Symphony", a tribute to the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing
of the Japanese city.
He also apologised to television stations and newspapers
which had supported his career as well as figure skater Daisuke
Takahashi, who used Samuragochi's music in his short programme
at the Sochi Winter Olympics just days after the scandal broke.
"I worried that it might have had a bad impact on his
skating ... I felt a terrible sense of responsibility,"
Samuragochi said, adding that he didn't watch the Olympics
because it was too painful. Takahashi ultimately finished sixth.
"I know that it was wrong to use a ghost writer, but it is
true that I wanted to use my music to bring light to people who
were having tough times," Samuragochi said.
The scandal has riveted Japan, with two television stations
broadcasting live the first 30 minutes of the news conference,
which went on for nearly three hours.
Music industry analysts say part of his popularity was the
result of promotion by an industry eager to put a human face to
classical music and retain a shrinking market share as Japan
(Additional reporting by Chris Meyers, editing by Ron Popeski)