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Japan's Beethoven admits he's a fake

A deaf composer, dubbed Japan's Beethoven, confessed yesterday to hiring someone to write his most iconic works, leaving duped public broadcaster NHK red-faced.

Mamoru Samuragoch shot to fame in the mid-1990s with classical compositions that provided the soundtrack to video games like Resident Evil, despite having a degenerative condition that affected his hearing since childhood.

Samuragoch became completely deaf at 35 but continued to work, notably producing "Symphony No 1, Hiroshima", a tribute to those killed in the 1945 atomic bombing of the city, AFP reported.

Time magazine published an interview with him, calling him a "digital-age Beethoven."

"I listen to myself," he told the magazine. "If you trust your inner sense of sound, you create something that is truer. It is like communicating from the heart. Losing my hearing was a gift from God."

In March last year, NHK aired a documentary entitled "Melody of the Soul", in which it showed the musician touring the tsunami-battered Tohoku region to meet survivors and those who lost relatives in the 2011 catastrophe.

Viewers flocked to buy his Hiroshima piece, which became an anthemic tribute to the tsunami-hit region's determination to get back on its feet and was known informally as the symphony of hope.

But yesterday, the composer's life was revealed to have been a fraud, and an NHK anchor offered a full apology for having aired the documentary. It is not known what made him come clean.

"Through his lawyer, Samuragoch confessed that he had asked another composer to create his iconic works," said the anchor.

The broadcaster quoted Samuragoch as saying his deception had begun nearly two decades ago.

Samuragoch paid for the commissioned works, said NHK, adding the unidentified real composer has yet to respond to requests for a comment.