Culture 14:23 25/11/2023

Zildjian's 400th anniversary to be marked in Armenia only with postage stamp

The Avedis Zildjian Company, the world’s oldest maker of cymbals, celebrates its 400th anniversary this year.

During the whole year, no event honoring the Zildjian legacy took place in Armenia. has reached out to the Armenian Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports to find out whether any event or program is being prepared to raise awareness about Armenian cymbals and the Zildjian family, or whether an application for the inclusion of the cymbals in the UNESCO cultural heritage list could be submitted to the organization.

Deputy Minister Alfred Kocharyan says in his response: "Regarding the popularization of Armenian cymbals and the 400th anniversary of the Zildjian Company, we would like to inform you that during the implementation of cultural programs special focus is placed on the preservation and popularization of Armenian musical instruments. In particular, preparations are underway to issue a postage stamp marking the 400th anniversary of the Zildjian cymbals.”

The Avedis Zildjian Company was founded in Constantinople in 1623. Zildjian is now based in Norwell, Massachusetts and sells cymbals, drumsticks and percussion mallets.

The first Zildjian cymbals were made in 1618 by Avedis, an Armenian alchemist who was looking for a way to turn base metal to gold. He made an alloy of tin, copper and silver into a sheet of metal, which could make musical sounds without shattering. Sultan Osman II gave Avedis the name Zildjian (Zilciyan) (“zil” is Turkish for cymbal, “ci” means maker and “ian” is the Armenian suffix meaning “son of”).

In 1623, the Sultan granted him permission to start his own business in Constantinople. He produced cymbals for Ottoman military bands, Greek and Armenian churches and belly dancers of the harems, who wore finger cymbals. The business passed to Avedis II who expanded it into Europe in 1850. In 1865 Kerope II took over and introduced a line of instruments called K Zildjian, still used by classical musicians to this day. In the late 1800s, Aram, the head of the family, set up a second factory in Bucharest fleeing political unrest while Kerope’s daughter ran the Constantinople factory. By 1910, Avedis III and his family fled Turkey to escape the Armenian Genocide and settled in Boston, Massachusetts. Around 1928, they began manufacturing cymbals and the Avedis Zildjian Company was formed the following year. Sales increased when Ringo Starr from the Beatles started using their cymbals. They opened another factory in New Brunswick, Canada in 1968.

In 1977, Armand took over as president and his brother, Robert, split from the company due to a conflict between the two and created Sabian Cymbals in Canada, rivaling Zildjian. In 2002, the company passed to Armand’s daughters (14th generation). In 2010, Zildjian acquired the Vic Firth Company and in 2018 the Mike Balter Mallet Company expanding Zildjian’s product offerings to include drumsticks and percussion mallets.

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