The travelling Abauzit and the rulling `Abbās’s

Firmin Abauzit was a French scholar who wrote the French translation of the New Testament and traveled all around Europe, meeting Pierre Bayle and Isaac Newton.

His life on the run began when he was quite young, about 10, when the Edict of Nantes (where Huguenots, or French Protestants were protected and tolerated in a largely Catholic nation) was revoked.  His mother organised his escape to Geneva, where he got really good at languages, physics and theology. He traveled extensively, met all sorts of interesting people including royalty such as King William III who offered him  PR in England (without having to fill all the annoying VISA and immigration forms), whom he politely declined.

He traipsed around everywhere, and even turned down the offer of professorship of philosophy at University of Geneva (who wouldn’t accept the opportunity to be called Dr Phil?!) and instead decided to settle in Geneva and become a librarian. Which gave him plenty of time to write a lot.

Sounds like his life would make good fodder for a movie or something.

Next we have the d’ Abbadie brothers, Antoine-Thomson and Arnaud-Michel who went in joint adventures and expeditions to Ethiopia and Brazil, learning about geography and archeology and all that Indiana Jones thing around the 1800s. It must have been very interesting in their household, French dad and Irish mum, and the brothers love of shared subject that allowed them to also share lives in this way.

Antoine appears to have a larger entry in Wikipedia than his sibling, and I wonder if that is because he’s more famous, or because the people writing the entries just hadn’t realised they are related and to make sure that both entries are similar in content and style. Hmm.

I’m currently watching ‘Mozart in the Jungle‘, a comedy series about classical music, sex and drugs set in the New York PhilharmonHear the Hair!ic Orchestra which revolves around the lives of an oboist and her relationship with the conductor, Maestro Rodrigo, a passionate, crazy, delightful character. So this next entry about Claudio Abbado, born in Milan in 1933 to a long line of Milanese musicians caught my fancy. I’m finding the entries about geographic places and other mundane stuff very dry so it’s nice to get to something that’s more interesting.

He learned piano, composing and conducting at a young age and eventually became the principal conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

I was in a choir when I was in lower secondary school. I wasn’t a great alto but because there weren’t many of us ‘in-betweeners’, I got to go for competitions and such like. My music teacher was from Australia, a lady with short mousey blond hair who could play Chatanooga Choo Choo and anything else on the piano on a whim. It was beautiful singing in harmony. You truly felt like a part of something beautiful, something bigger, as if you were a note in the floating magical music sheet of life.

How wonderful to be part of an orchestra where this is a daily experience. The closest I have come to this feeling is when my project team is cracking it, and we are all working as one. Not quite as harmonic, but it still feels great nonetheless.

While he was music director at La Scala in Milan, Abbado also made Opera a more more accessible experience for ‘normal’ people.

Claudio Abbado

So far I have read about people who made an impact in the world, and on society. It makes me think more about my life, and how I want to leave it.

Now we look at `Abbāses (or `Abbāses?) as in many dudes named `Abbās’. This guy `Abbās I was a viceroy in Egypt. Sounds like a king or emperor or someone with a lot of power. He lived from 1813 —1854 and was quite the rebellious one, rejecting Western influence such as military schools and factories, as well as the Suez Canal that was proposed by the French. Apparently he also curbed government spending which meant that the poor suffered less. What a contradictory man.

It also sounds like it must have been a cloak and daggery type of setting because ‘this man of secretive nature who lived in isolation in his Palace in Banhā and was eventually strangled by two of his servants.

`Abbās II the last viceroy (khedive) apparently flip flopped on supporting the British, and that didn’t end well. Not a hugely interesting life according to EB.Abbās of Persia

The next `Abbās I entry is from Persia, or Iran, and was a Shah for about 41 years from 1588 to 1629, and was also called `Abbās the Great. Now this is an interesting chap. While EB gave a brief outline of his life, a quick jaunt over to Wikipedia gave a much deeper story about this ruler of the middle east, who was surrounded by courtroom intrigue and warfare with neighbouring kingdoms.

He was facing threats from two fronts: the Ottomans and the Uzbeks. To do that, he signed a treaty with Ottoman and then created a standing army (which I understood to be a ‘permanent’ army, not a part-timey one such as before when they would conscript men from the surrounding villages and tribal cavalries.

Through brilliant strategies and tactical operations, and sheer persistence, `Abbās was able to expel the Uzbeks and then the Ottomans. After that came a period of peace which brought about development of beautiful structures within the city and surrounding areas, encouraging trade and tolerance to other religions.

While the country seemed to be flourishing, suspicions, murders and intrigue would see him murdering and blinding his sons and members of his own family.  Another cloak and daggery story.

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