The Lord of Cymbals

Without doubt Zildjian is one of the world’s greatest cymbals. The Lord of Cymbals I can say. Did you know that the company is actually from Istanbul? In 1929 the company had to move to Massachusetts and open up its first factory. The Zildjian story is a long and a sad story. Here is what I know and have gathered for those you are interested.

The great great father of Zildjian was obviously an Armenian and lived in Trabzon a city on the East Black Sea coast of Turkey. His name was Avedis and he was master tinsmith. During his life he started experimenting with alchemy and even tried to create gold from other materials. After continues experiments and failures he is just about to give up but then something happens. He discovers the soul of the future empire of cymbals. His cymbals become so well known that they reach the Imperial court and the Sultan. Hence the cymbals become the irrevocable piece of the Ottoman army orchestra, feast celebrations and weddings. The Sultan, Second Osman ( in reign between 26 February 1618 – 19 May 1622) grands Avedis with the surname Zildjian which actually originates from the Turkish word Zil-Yapan-oğlu meaning The Son of The Cymbal Maker. He also rewards the tinsmith with so gold and a title.

With the support of the Sultan, Zildjian moves his workshop to İstanbul and here is where all the magic starts to happen and move forward. The workshop is founded in Samatya, a district where minorities are populated. The name originates from the Greek word psamathion, meaning “sandy”, because of the great quantity of sand found in the neighbourhood. The family continues its fame all over the region and even outside the Ottoman borders. Each individual in the Avedis (Zildjian) family takes over the flag and continues the work to the next generation. In 1851 as a company Zildjian participates in the Paris and the London Trade Fairs. With this gate the company opened up to Europe and captures the interest of composers, instrumentalists and musicians. Of course the best advertisement mean of Word Of Mouth scattered like a virus.

Then comes the main rampancy era of the company. It’s the period of the two brothers Kerope and Haroutune.

Unfortunate the two brothers personally cannot push forward the creativity of the company but then comes their nephew Aram who takes control of the workshop and the brand. Unfortunately due to the political discrimination of Armenians he moves the business to Bucharest for a short while. When he returns back to Istanbul he decides that the company cannot move forward as long as it is based in Istanbul. Therefore he opens up to his relatives living in USA about the future of the company. At first the relatives are not that much interested but with a little persuasion Zildjian moves its address from Istanbul to Massachusetts in 1929. But some part of the family Vahan and Mikael brothers, insisted to stay in İstanbul and continue production in Samatya. Unfortunately with the 1942 events against minorities (a whole story) they were basically forced to shut down the workshop. What a shame! Hence Istanbul loses one of the best know cymbals brands in the world totally due to political discomfort and discrimination.

But yet the family in İstanbul still give it a go and try to restart the workshop and one way or the other prolonged the last remains of the brand until 1977 in Istanbul. Yet again with the restless political situation in Turkey the lower the shutter for the last and final time. The Istanbul leg of the world famous cymbal company Zildjian rests in peace now. Some of the family members eventually could not accept this and started a new company under the name of Istanbul Cymbals which also has a name for itself but nothing close to the original Istanbul Brand of Zildjian that was basically handed over to USA. If you don’t cherish it someone else will. What if it had remained and existed in Istanbul, what if…