Just when you thought Shia Labeouf was the king of passing off others' work as his own, it turns out that beloved classical composer Mamoru Samuragochi has been paying a ghostwriter to pen his most well-known works for years.
The New York Times reports that Samuragochi confessed to paying some $70,000 over the years to one Takashi Niigaki. This bombshell came just days before Niigaki outed Samuragochi in the press. But, the allegations don't stop there. Niigaki claims that Samuragochi also lied about being hard of hearing. Samuragochi has told press in the past that he went deaf in the '90s, but still retains some hearing in one ear with the use of a hearing aid. However, according to The New York Times' summary of a Japanese tabloid story citing Niigaki, the composer was fully able to listen to and give edits on the work Niigaki provided under conditions of anonymity.
Niigaki says Samuragochi purposefully played up his deafness to cultivate a savant-like image of a modern Beethoven, and given his considerable popularity both as a musician and as a celebrity personality in Japan, it seems to have worked. However, the fraud raises some serious questions that Americans have faced in the past regarding the authenticity of great artistic works.
Music is, obviously, deeply connected with its context and its origins. Even the very same song sung by one artist versus another would have a different impression on the public. Furthermore, the public and private atmosphere of when you first hear a song will stay in your mind forever. In the same way that smelling your old perfume reminds you of a very particular time in your life, listening to an old hit will evoke certain context and emotions. So, while the authorship doesn't necessarily diminish the beauty of the music itself, it does change the way fans of the now-disgraced Samuragochi will hear his works in the future.
Since making this public confession, Samuragochi has not offered any comment. One of his most popular pieces, Sonatina for Violin, will also be used in a performance by figure skater Daisuke Takahashi at the Sochi Olympics. His camp has released a statement noting that "Takahashi and the people involved with him did not know about this incident." We sincerely hope that he, at least, can get through this controversy unscathed. (The New York Times)