The company was founded in Constantinople in 1623 by Avedis Zildjian, an Armenian. Zildjian is now based in Norwell, Massachusetts. Zildjian is the oldest manufacturer of musical instruments in the world as well as one of the oldest continuously operating companies in the world. Zildjian sells cymbals, drumsticks, percussion mallets and other drum accessories under the Zildjian, Vic Firth and Balter Mallet brands.

The first Zildjian cymbals were created in 1618 by Avedis Zildjian, an Armenian metalsmith and alchemist. Like his father, who was also a metalsmith, he worked for the court of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire in Constantinople. He made an alloy of tin, copper, and silver into a sheet of metal, which could make musical sounds without shattering.

Sultan Mustafa I gave Avedis eighty gold pieces as a bequest, in addition to officially recognizing the surname Zilciyan or Zildjian, meaning “Son of a Cymbal Maker” or “Family of Cymbalsmiths” in Armenian (with zil being Turkish for “cymbal”, ci meaning “maker”, and ian being the Armenian suffix meaning “son of”). In 1623 the Sultan granted him permission to leave the palace to start his own business in the Armenian sector of Constantinople, called 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 also produced instruments for Greek and Armenian churches, Sufi dervishes, and belly dancers of the Ottoman harem, who wore finger cymbals.

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..

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