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Email from Clement Bailly, grandson of Jeyhun Hajibeyli [brother of Uzeyir Hajibeyov], who lives in Paris. Posted on with permission from the author.

To: Betty Blair, Editor of Azerbaijan International magazine and editor of, who lives in Los Angeles.

Issue: Wondering about Hajibeyov's true feelings about the Soviet regime.

Bonjour Betty,

At this point in our research about Uzeyir Hajibeyov, I think we must ask ourselves some important questions. First of all, what was the real relationship between Uzeyir Hajibeyov and the Soviet power? We don’t really have his personal point of view, as he died before Stalin did [Uzeyir died in 1948, Stalin died in 1953] and thus he did not have the opportunity to write his memoires like Shostakovitch, Prokofiev and Katchaturian did. Those three really did believe in “Socialist Evolution.” So the question is: Was Uzeyir Hajibeyov a good Socialist?

Who can say? Before 1918 he was already involved in politics and social struggles, alphabetization, Latin script, education, fighting against the mullahs. He and his friends who helped organize the ADR [Azerbaijan Democratic Republic] struggled to give women the right to vote long before France and the USA did. So I’m really wondering who the real Uzeyir Hajibeyov was. Maybe we will never know.

Uzeyir and Jeyhun [his brother, my grandfather] wrote lot of articles in “Azerbaidjan” newspaper about this terrible period of 1918-1920. I took a look at them yesterday here in Paris. Some of them have been translated into French (Ramiz Abutalibov, I love you). In fact they were more afraid of Dashnaks than the Red army, and they really made a big distinction between the two.

Seems they could deal with the Red Army but the Dashnaks used to abuse both groups. Even Bolshevik newspapers were indignant about atrocities committed by the troops of Andranik and Lalayev the likes of them.

In Baku [1918-1920] the Soviet army had to threaten the Dashnaks that they would bomb the Armenian section of the town to stop the Dashnak mass murders of Muslims.

Second, I have discovered amongst the pile of condolences letters for my grandfather Jeyhun [Uzeyir’s brother] some notes that are written in very poor French, German and English. There are some very interesting things: Aliyev Mamad bey, born in Aghdam 1905, arrived in France after WWII. In one of his conversations with Uzeyir in Baku before 1940, he mentions that Uzeyir said to him, “I don’t understand why Jeyhun stayed in France, why didn’t he come back?”

Strange. Why would Uzeyir say that? I hope to have an interview with Khadir Suleyman, 84 years old next month in Paris, Khadir knew all those people.

Third, we must not forget that Uzeyir and Jeyhun were in Moscow and St. Petersburg prior to the Revolution of 1917. They surely met Socialist “revolutionaries” there. Did Uzeyir ever talk about that? What was the impact on them? I’m still convinced that there must be a lot of valuable documents in the National Archives in French, German, English, Azeri (Latin script of the 1930s as well as Arabic script) and Russian as grandpa used to switch between those languages.

Last, always in those condolences letters Mehmet Altunbey wrote that Jeyhun worked with Uzeyir not only on “Leyli and Majnun,” but also “Arshin Mal Alan,” “Asli and Karam,” “Harun and Leyla,” Abbas and Khurshud Banu,” Shah Ismayil,” “O Olmasun, Bu Olsun,” “Sheikh Sanan,” In fact everything that was produced before 1918. Jeyhun also worked with his other brother Zulfugar on “Ashug Garib” according to him.

We don’t know much about Zulfugar. Seems to be a very discrete person. Are there some archives about him? Azerbaijani people of a certain age, seems to me, are a bit passive, I don’t think they really want to dig up the past. We Europeans love poking around in history because we believe in history. I do not know how Azeris feel about history. Maybe they want to forget and just remember the good things. But that is not a reason to stop our research.

When I refer to history, of course I mean the Soviet period. I assume that Azeris love their history, but I have discovered while searching documents on the internet (Azeri sites) that there is almost nothing about history for the periods between 1920 to 1988.

In comparison on Russian Web sites, you’ll see that they are quite hysterical about history – like they are doing a complete self therapy about communism. For Azerbaijan, it would appear that fear is still there, and the Bear is at the border. Or maybe they don’t know those periods and are having trouble accessing them. Anyway ten years is nothing when researching history.


December 12, 2001

PS. I’m excited about the new developments of finding the handwritten versions of “Arshin Mal Alan” [in Azeri – Arabic script] by Uzeyir in the Manuscript Institute in Baku. Maybe this will throw some light on Jeyhun’s role on these early works. Farid [Alakbarov] speaks about two signatures on these manuscripts. I CAN’T WAIT. A question I keep asking myself why the UH [Uzeyir Hajibeyov] museum, whose duty is to show everything about UH did not manage to have at least a photocopy of those manuscripts.

Betty, I just remembered. In fact there are some texts in Arabic script in the Uzeyir Hajibeyov Museum. They’re located in the last room, underneath the first “Leyli and Majnun” program, on a piece of pink silk embroidery. I cannot remember what they’re all about, but they’re handwritten in Arabic script.

Added: Dec 15, 2001