Robert Zildjian

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Robert Zildjian
Born July 14, 1923 (1923-07-14)
Boston, Massachusetts
Died March 28, 2013 (2013-03-29) (aged 89)
Brunswick, Maine

Robert Zildjian (July 14, 1923 – March 28, 2013) was the founder of Sabian Cymbals, the second largest manufacturer of cymbals in the world.


Zildjian was born in Boston, Massachusetts and belonged to the Zildjian family, which brought the technology of cymbal making to the United States by Armenian Avedis Zildjian, and then passed it on to future generations of family members. The company was founded in 1981 in Meductic, New Brunswick, Canada, by Robert Zildjian, son of Avedis Zildjian III, the head of the Avedis Zildjian Company located in Quincy, Massachusetts. Family tradition had it that the head of the company would pass its secrets down only to the oldest son, but Avedis III gave the information to both his sons, Armand Zildjian and Robert Zildjian. A family feud resulted in Robert leaving Zildjian to form the rival Sabian Cymbals company. The companies continue to be rivals, and are both among the world's most popular cymbal brands. Sabian cymbals have been used by many famous drummers in the world, including Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Peart of Rush, and Mike Portnoy, formerly of Dream Theater. Zildjian remained active in management until recently, spending most of the summer in a cottage in Meductic, New Brunswick near the main production facility.

Zildjian formed the word Sabian from the two first letters of the names of his three children Sally, Bill and Andy (a nickname for Armand) and "-ian" (indicating Armenian descent).


Zildjian died March 28, 2013, at his home in Brunswick, Maine at the age of 89 after a battle with cancer. In addition to his wife Willi, sons Andy and Wilson (Bill), and daughter Sally Zildjian Teague, he was survived by eight grandchildren.


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