Azerbaijan International

Spring 2001 (9.1)
Page 10

Reader's Forum
Pre-Soviet Roots

These days I'm trying to devote my time to researching everything possible about the history of my grandparents, whose lives were forever disrupted when Soviet forces captured Azerbaijan in 1920. After living 17 years in Eastern Oceania - that vast area of the Pacific Ocean where remote islands comprise a huge triangle between Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island - I have taken a sabbatical in Paris to devote myself to this task.

My grandfather was Jeyhun Hajibeyli (1891-1962), younger brother of Uzeyir Hajibeyov, the great composer (1885-1948). Just like nearly everyone else in the Hajibeyov family, I, too, am a professional musician, and my specialty is the digital restoration of old audio documents.

Unfortunately, what I know about the history of my family is rather piecemeal. Grandfather Jeyhun grew up in Shusha [a part of western Azerbaijan that is now occupied by Armenian troops]. He went to France for the first time as a 22-year-old student in 1913. As I understand, he returned again as one of the delegates representing the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan at the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919 at the end of World War I.

When the Soviets took over Baku a few months later in April 1920, my grandfather never returned to Baku, as he feared for his life because of his intense political and journalistic involvement. My own father, Teymuchin, was born in Nice, France, later that year. His older brother Jeyhun had been born in Baku in 1918 and was later killed in World War II by German troops in eastern France. Grandfather Jeyhun died of a heart attack in 1962.

Around 1965 my father and I were able to secretly meet our cousin Niyazi, the famous Maestro (1912-1984), while he was touring in Paris, and this, despite the fact that two KGB agents were watching him. In 1985 my father was able to return to Baku to visit the surviving members of our family, but for some strange reason, my visa application was denied.

In 1989, my father wrote a book entitled "La Question du Haut Karabagh - Un Point de Vue Azeri." In 1992 he died after a serious bout with cancer.

Grandfather Jeyhun was quite a prolific writer; he didn't stop his activities even though he was away from his native land. In 1926, for example, he wrote "Histoire de la Presse en Azerbaidjan in Revue Azerbaidjan." In 1933, he wrote "Le Dialecte et le Folklore du Garabagh" for Le Journal Asiatique (it has since been translated into Azeri).

I am planning to make a CD-ROM of the documents, photos, writings and other sources that I find documenting the lives of my family members who were separated from the homeland. I also plan to write a biography about Grandfather Jeyhun. Still there is a black hole from 1940-1948 - the war years. There are so many things to discover when I set foot in Baku for the first time in my life, which I hope to do this summer. If anyone can provide further details about my family, I would be so grateful.

 Clement Hadjibailly
Boite Postale 321, Ile d/Yeu 85350 France

You may wonder about my name: Jean-Clement Jeyhun Bailly Hadjibeyli. When Grandfather Jeyhun arrived in France in 1920, the name Hadjibeyli had already been Russified to Gadjibekoff, so he decided to change it back again to Hadjibeyli. My father later shortened it to Bailly, but I decided to retain both Bailly and Hadjibeyli.

Azerbaijan International (9.1) Spring 2001.
© Azerbaijan International 2001. All rights reserved.

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