TODAY

TODAY   |  March 10, 2014

‘Japanese Beethoven’ admits: I’m not deaf

Famed composer Mamoru Samuragochi admitted in front of hundreds of reporters that he isn’t deaf as he claimed, and that the symphonies he said were his own were actually written by a ghost writer. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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>>> and now the tragic fall of a man beloved for his music and praised for the challenges he's faced. but turns out his story was actually part of an elaborate lie. the story from london. good morning.

>> reporter: hi, savannah. yeah, his music was used everywhere from the winter olympics in sochi to video games played in the u.s. but the japanese composer who was so admired because he was deaf now says he can hear. and also that he did not write the music.

>> it is a fall from musical grace for the man known as japanese beethoven. admitting in front of hundreds of reporters that it was all a lie. that he wasn't completely deaf as he claimed. and that the symphonies and the other music he said was his own for the last 18 years had, in fact, been secretly written by a ghost writer. it is, indeed, the case that i have deceived people and i'm extremely sorry, he said friday. his first appearance after the allegations surfaced a month ago. determined the 50-year-old was not legally deaf. and after the real composer, the realtime professor in tokyo went public himself. his claim to fame was this piece. the symphony about the 1945 atomic bombing of his home city. just a few weeks ago in sochi, japanese figure skater used what was believed to be the composer's music for his short program. days after the scandal first broke.

>> the theme music for the video game resident evil was also credited to the musicians. compared to beethoven because the german composer's deafness, says he has hearing problems. but there's little sympathy in japan. the young's people's chorus of new york is scheduled to play that hiroshima piece later this month. the group says it has not decided yet whether to pull it from the program. also, this has been a great disappointment to people in the deaf community worldwide.

>> absolutely. janet, thank you so much.

>> i think he said during the press conference that throughout the 18 years he was living the lie, he kind of knew this was coming out one day and lived in fear of it. he hung his head in shame several times during that press conference.

>> yeah, and an awful way to live. terrible thing to