The family run Zildjian are one of the main makers of cymbals in the world. being one of the longest running as well as most widely used cymbal brands amongst drummers everywhere. The first Zildjian cymbals were created in 1618 by Avedis Zildjian, an Armenian alchemist who was looking for a way to turn base metal into gold. He made an alloy of tin, copper, and silver into a sheet of metal, which could make musical sounds without shattering.The Sultan Osman II the Young gave Avedis the name Zildjian (Zilciyân - zil is Turkish for "cymbal," ci means "maker," and ian is the Armenian suffix meaning "son of"), and in 1623 granted him permission to leave the palace to start his own business in a suburb of Constantinople named Psamatia.
The first Zildjian cymbals were created in 1618 by Avedis Zildjian, an Armenian alchemist who was looking for a way to turn base metal into gold. He made an alloy of tin, copper, and silver into a sheet of metal, which could make musical sounds without shattering.The Sultan Osman II the Young gave Avedis the name Zildjian (Zilciyân - zil is Turkish for "cymbal," ci means "maker," and ian is the Armenian suffix meaning "son of"), and in 1623 granted him permission to leave the palace to start his own business in a suburb of Constantinople named Psamatia.
Zildjian's shop manufactured cymbals for the mehter, Ottoman military bands consisting of wind and percussion instruments, which belonged to the Janissaries. Mehter ensembles, which were known in the West primarily for playing in battle, also performed courtly music for Ottoman rulers. The Zildjians likely also produced instruments for Greek and Armenian churches, Sufi dervishes and belly dancers of the Ottoman harem, who wore finger cymbals.
In 1850 Avedis II built a 25-foot schooner, in order to sail cymbals produced in Constantinople to trade exhibitions such as the Great Exhibition in London, and to supply musicians in Europe.
In 1865 Avedis II died, and his brother Kerope II took over the company. He introduced a line of instruments called K Zildjian, which are used by classical musicians to this day. Kerope II died in 1909 in Constantinople.
In the late nineteenth century, Aram Zildjian, who was then head of the family, was forced by political conditions to flee to Bucharest. There, he set up a second Zildjian factory, while Kerope I's daughter Victoria ran the Constantinople factory. This situation continued until about 1927.
Avedis Zildjian III in front of the Zildjian Quincy Factory
By 1910, the Advedis III and his family fled Turkey due to the country's increasingly volatile relationship with Armenia. The Zildjian family eventually settled in Boston, Massachusetts.
Around 1928, Avedis III, his brother Puzant, and his uncle Aram Zildjian began manufacturing cymbals in Quincy, Massachusetts, and the Avedis Zildjian Co. was formed the following year in 1929.
Avedis III sought out jazz drummers like Gene Krupa to understand their needs. The new cymbals he developed were widely adopted by swing and later bebop musicians, laying the foundations of the modern drum kit and playing technique.
In 1968, Avedis split production into two separate operations, opening the Azco factory in Meductic, New Brunswick, Canada.
Gravestone of Puzant and Arpine Zildjian, Mount Auburn Cemetery, Watertown, MA
In 1975, Zildjian began making K. Zildjian cymbals at the Azco plant. These were made until 1979. Within four years (1980), all K Cymbals were being made in the Norwell US plant, because the Ks demanded far more oversight. Armand worked with friends, the drummers Elvin Jones and Tony Williams to relaunch the K Series.
In early 1977, Armand Zildjian was appointed President of the Avedis Zildjian Company by his father. Soon after, Robert Zildjian split from the company amidst conflict with his brother, Armand. In 1981, Robert started making Sabian cymbals in the Canadian Azco factory.
In 2003, Armand died at age 83. The Zildjian alloy recipe passed to his daughters, Craigie and Debbie (14th generation), both of whom continue to run the family business from the current factory in Norwell, Massachusetts.
Other than cymbals, the Avedis Zildjian Company produces products such as drum sticks and other drum accessories. In 2012, the Avedis Zildjian Company celebrated their 390th anniversary. In 2016, Avedis Zildjian Company promoted Neil Larrivee to vice president.