Often enough we find ourselves reading articles in the paper about the death of a well-to-doer who leaves his or her fortune to the children. Most of the time the children are well into adulthood but never outgrew the petulance of spoiled rich kids. All too often among the often enough, the children left behind are unhappy with what they inherited. They may not have been around for earning it but that doesn’t stop them from expecting it. Battle lines are drawn, bad manners invoked, lawyers called, and siblings who had little to do with each other begin to publicly denounce each other claiming that Daddy planned on changing the will but just didn’t get around to it.
So it was refreshing that we read about a pair of siblings who didn’t resort to the courtroom to solve their issues and in the process created double the good stuff that the family was known for. Refreshing, but sad for we learned of the story of these siblings on the death of the younger.
If you have ever been on the instrument side of a band – concert, jazz, marching, or garage – you have probably grabbed a stick and started tapping on a drum. As your boldness grew, you aimed that maple rod and patted out a beat or two on the shiny disk delicately balanced on its stand. And the tone was nothing like what you expected. Chances are you just experienced your first Zildjian, or perhaps Sabian. Certainly one of the two which are the two biggest players in cymbal-dom. In fact, Zildjian is so synonymous with cymbals that the name means “Son of a Cymbal Maker” and was bestowed on the family by the royals of 17th century Constantinople when the first of the cymbal makers discovered a metal mix that resulted in unequaled musical tone. And for 260 years the Zildjians were the best at making what they made.
For almost all of those years the mantle of maintaining the family’s place in philharmonic peerage, and the family secret to make the alloy from what those shiny disks are cast, was passed each generation to the oldest son. That was until Avedis Zildjian passed in 1979. He had two sons, Armand the oldest, and Robert who had been running the company. It may have been because of Robert’s heavy involvement with the family business that Avedis did not leave the business, and the family secret, to Armand; rather he left them to both. In keeping a bit of the tradition, he left controlling interest of the company to the elder brother.
Here is where in soap operas and the real reality of the 21st century that lawyers would be summoned. Brother would stand against brother and destroy the work of generations and the joy of the masses. But in the coolness that goes to show that brothers can still be brotherly, the two decided to split the company, Armond maintaining control of the Zildjian name and the company that bears it and Robert getting the family secret but not permission to use the family name to work his mastery at a new company. That company would become Sabian. (Robert was still a strong family man and gave his new company his family name. Sort of. He came up with the name by taking the first two letters of his three children, Sally, Bill, and Andy.)
And it went that instead of one brilliant cymbal maker, the world got two. And instead of a divisive family battle with no one a winner, the world gets a lesson that rivalry, even the sibling kind, isn’t always a bad thing, it’s just a thing. It’s just a shame someone had to die for that lesson to be learned.
Now, that’s what we think. Really. How ‘bout you?