Bob Zildjian was the descendant of 10 generations of Armenian cymbal makers. His father, Avedis Zildjian, emigrated to Boston from Turkey in the early 1900s. In 1928, his great-uncle Aram also came to Boston, bringing with him the family process and trade secrets in metalworking and cymbal-making. Together, they set up the Avedis Zildjian Company, where they began manufacturing cymbals.
At the age of 14 Bob, along with his older brother, Armand, apprenticed at their father’s company and learned the secret manufacturing process. When World War II began, Bob enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as an infantryman in Europe. After the horrors of the second Great War, Bob’s homecoming was the beginning of a new chapter in his life. Unsure and tentative about his mental state at the time, Bob sought advice from family and friends. Eventually a neighbor suggested that Bob join his deer hunting expedition to the quiet, scenic province of New Brunswick, as a chance to relax and reassess.
Back in Boston at the Zildjian Company, Bob wore many hats: accountant, advertising executive, artist relations, and sales. He quickly built a valuable list of personal contacts among dealers throughout the United States and the rest of the world. In 1958, Bob, with his wife Willi at his side, was the first American to display at the annual Frankfurt Musik Messe trade show. Bob spent the 1950s and early 1960s developing company sales outside the USA, primarily in Europe. In 1960, Bob and Willi also traveled to Istanbul, where they finalized the purchase of the K. Zildjian Company.
During the rock & roll explosion of the 1960s, the production capacity of Zildjian’s Massachusetts plant was outstripped, and in 1967 Avedis Zildjian charged his son Bob with setting up a subsidiary operation to serve their rapidly expanding market. He chose Meductic, Canada, where he liked to go fishing. And so in 1968, the Azco plant was opened in Meductic, NB. In 1975, Bob closed the K. Zildjian factory in Turkey and brought his uncle Kerope and Kerope’s two sons, Gabe and Michael, to AZCO in Canada.
In 1979, at the age of 90, Bob’s father died. In keeping with family tradition, Avedis left the entire business to his two sons, Bob and Armand. As the eldest son, Armand inherited the controlling share. Unfortunately, it was a partnership that would not last. The brothers quarreled, and two years of bitter litigation in Massachusetts courts resulted in a settlement under which Armand kept the A. Zildjian Company and Bob received the AZCO subsidiary.
Bob opened a brand new cymbal company in 1981, SABIAN – an acronym formed from the first two letters of the names of his children: Sally, Bill and Andy. SABIAN thrived under his direction.
Bob believed strongly that he could play an important role in helping young people’s dreams come true, and so he funded the SABIAN PASIC Scholarship, awarded to a Canadian student of percussion each year.
Bob also believed it was important to honor the achievement of gifted percussionists — those whose performances had shaped the future of sound. He would set up a Sabian Lifetime Achievement Award, awarded each year at PASIC. Past winners include musical luminaries such as Jack DeJohnette and Vic Firth.
Bob was on the receiving end of many awards throughout his illustrious life, but he was most proud of the two bestowed by his adopted province of New Brunswick. First was the 2009 New Brunswick Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame Award, which honored the brightest business minds in the province while raising money for Junior Achievement programs. And second was the honorary degree he received from the University of New Brunswick in 2010.
“I’d like to be the best cymbal company in the world,” said Bob Zildjian in an early SABIAN interview. “I’m not that worried about being the biggest. But if we are the biggest, that’s good too. But being the best is primary…that’s my motivation.”
William F. "Bill" Crowden, a member of the percussion industry for over 50 years, died at the age of 81. Crowden began working at Frank's Drum Shop in Chicago in 1957 and six years later opened Drums Ltd. on Wabash Avenue.
In 1972, Crowden married William F. Ludwig II’s daughter, Brooke. “Having Bill Ludwig as my father-in-law did have its pluses and minuses,” Crowden told Drum Business in a January 2012 interview. “But he was number one a family man as well as a marvelous businessman. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.”
Crowden, who served as President of the Illinois PAS Chapter from 1980–82, sold his retail store in 1991 and spent the next five years as director of product development for the Paiste Cymbal Company. He spent six years working for Brook Mays Music Group in Texas, including helping them resurrect the Rogers brand. In 2002, he received the President’s Industry Award from PAS.
“Bill Crowden was both a mentor and colleague,” states Jim Catalano, Business Managerfor Ludwig/Musser. “He was a walking history book of our percussion world as well as a pioneer on exotic and world percussion instruments long before it was popular. Bill, like Ludwig/Musser, was ‘total percussion’.”
Donations in his name may be made to the William F. Ludwig, Jr. PASIC Scholarship Fund at PAS.
Neal Graham, founder of XL Specialty Percussion died on Dec.23, 2012. Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Neal graduated from Ball State University and majored in Music Education. He taught percussion privately and within several area music programs over the years, including North Side, Northrop, and Snider High Schools. He performed with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Civic Theater productions, rock bands, and the praise bands at St. Joseph United Methodist Church.
In 1972, Neal opened a teaching studio in Fort Wayne. Later, he expanded the studio to include a small retail sales operation. That operation eventually became the Percussion Center, one of the largest and most successful drum shops in the Midwest. The Percussion Center catered to such prominent drummers as Neil Peart, Kenny Aronoff, and Billy Cobham. Peart regarded Neal as his “equipment mentor.”
At the Percussion Center, Neal created a process he called “Vibra-Fibing,” which involved spraying a thin layer of fiberglass resin to the inside of drum shells. The process helped to improve the natural warmth and resonance of the drums and remove harmonic inconsistencies while sharpening their attack and making them more reflective and adding to their projection.
In 1981, Neal established XL Specialty Percussion, a case manufacturer best known for his design and production of Protechtor drum cases. XL SpecialtyPercussion also became one of the largest makers of marching drum carriers and stands. In 1991, Neal closed the Percussion Center to focus his attention on manufacturing. In December of 2008, Neal sold XL to Gator Cases but stayed on as General Manager.
In Memoriam: Herb Brochstein
Pro-Mark founder Herb Brochstein died on Jan. 16. 2013. Brochstein began his career as a drummer, and he also taught and owned a drum shop. In 1957 he launched the Houston-based Pro-Mark drumstick company, which was the first American stick company to manufacture sticks from Japanese oak. In 1985, Pro-Mark patented the Hot-Rods, a rute-like implement for use on drumset. Pro-Mark was purchased by the D’Addario company in 2011.
In Memoriam: Elliott Carter
Composer Elliott Carter died on Nov. 5, 2012, at age 103.
Carter was born in New York City on Dec. 11, 1908. He studied with Walter Piston at Harvard University and later studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris for three years. He then returned to New York to devote his time to composing and teaching.
Carter won his first Pulitzer Prize in 1960 for his “Second String Quartet”; his second award was in 1973 for his “Third String Quartet.” A recording of his “Violin Concerto” won a Grammy Award for best contemporary composition in 1994. Among his other awards was the National Medal of Arts, bestowed in 1985. In September, 2012, France awarded him the insignia of Commander of the Legion of Honor. Carter was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1963 and to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1969.
Carter taught at several American conservatories and colleges, including the Peabody Conservatory, Queens College, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Cornell and the Juilliard School.
His “Eight Pieces for Four Timpani” became a standard in the percussion repertoire. In the program notes to the piece, Carter wrote, “The Canto and Adagio of this set of ‘Eight Pieces for Four Timpani’ (One Player) were written in 1966, while the other six were composed in 1949. In those days, these six were found difficult, if not impossible to play effectively, but, as time passed interest in them and performing skills grew, so I decided to publish the set complete, as four of them had been widely circulated in manuscript, in 1966. At that time, they were revised with the help of the percussionist Jan Williams, of the New York State University at Buffalo. In gratitude for his advice, the Canto and Adagio were composed for him and included the set. Unlike the others, each of which is a four-note piece based on different tunings of the drums, these two employ the possibilities of the pedal-tuned chromatic timpani. The six from 1949, besides being virtuoso solos for the instrumentalist, are studies in the controlled, interrelated changes of speed now called ‘metric modulation,’ and generated ideas carried further in my ‘First String Quartet,’ begun at the same time and completed shortly afterwards.”
For further reading: Elliott Carter's “Eight Pieces for Four Timpani”: A comparison of the original manuscript and the published version, by Morris “Arnie” Lang.
In Memoriam: Brandon Keith Wood (1984-2012)
Where does one begin to write about someone so special, so young and talented being taken from us so soon? His family, his friends—we have no answers. However I thought I would share a few thoughts regarding this incredible young man and the time I was fortunate to share with him.
I first met Brandon when he was an undergraduate student of Andy Harnsberger’s at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, and began recruiting him for our MM program from that point onward. After several visits to Florida State and a terrific audition we offered him a teaching assistantship.
To say that Brandon was an anchor for the FSU studio would be a severe understatement. We work incessantly, and not one time could you ever find anything but a smile on Brandon’s face. Always prepared, always dependable—to the point of thinking of things before I would, always counted upon to do anything beyond and above his official duties, he quickly became a favorite of both the undergraduates he instructed, as well as his entire peer group and faculty within the College of Music.
When the time came for DMA auditions, Brandon really connected with Jim Campbell and the UK family, and no one was happier to see Brandon in the exact right place for him—personally and professionally—than Andy and I could have been. Every subsequent communication with Jim always ended with “Brandon is just fabulous. Everyone loves him, and it’s so wonderful to have him here.” These are things I hope one day to hear about my own children.
Speaking of, when my wife became pregnant with our first child, Brandon and Kellie staged a surprise shower with all of the girls from the percussion studio and the significant others of the guys, and when Gabriel was born in Spring of 2008 Brandon and Kellie were the first people to hold him outside of his mother and me—and the first of my students to visit us in the hospital. Kellie was his first babysitter, and Brandon would often accompany her on what was quite a sitting adventure with Gabriel “The Destroyer” during the six months they were in Tally before moving to Lexington.
I have only been a professional teacher for 16 years and have never lost a student—all of whom I regard as family (something that I learned from Jim as my mentor early on), but just to show the scope of how many people he touched in such a short time, I leave you with a few thoughts.
In my time as part of the Percussive Arts Society International governance, we have lost friends and colleagues. However I have never heard, or been so moved by, a standing President opening a meeting at the International Convention with an announcement about someone so young in our organization. Brandon was someone we all had our eyes on as an emerging leader, and you could tell by the reaction of the Board that he was known and respected even at this very early stage of his career.
The other came from one of my best friends, Brian Mason—UK alum and world-class educator—who gave me these words after a celebration of Brandon’s life with friends the last night of PASIC 2012 in Austin, attended by many FSU/UK alums, Jim, Andy and many students who had only heard of Brandon or met him when they auditioned. Brian said that the reason this is so painful is a testimony to Brandon’s impact on all of us—as a father, devoted husband, artist, pedagogue, colleague, role model and friend—and someone who truly only wanted to leave this profession and this world a better place than he found it.
No truer words could be spoken of our friend. Brandon made us better teachers, better musicians, better colleagues—and better human beings. And that in turn will help us to influence future students in a way that we could not, had we not been fortunate enough to have our life paths intertwine with his. The service in Birmingham could not have been a finer tribute, and although impossible to attend for all who Brandon touched, I know that everyone’s thoughts were there with us in Alabama and will continue to be with his family.
Brandon will be missed, and he will always be remembered, and it will be our mission to love, nurture and constantly remind his four-month-old son Cameron, wife Kellie, and his surviving family what an amazing person he was. Everyone hug your friends and family for a few extra seconds and remind yourselves of how short our tenure on this earth truly is—and what matters while we are here.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the "Brandon Keith Wood Memorial Account" at the University of Kentucky Federal Credit Union, 2557 Sir Barton Way, Lexington, KY 40509. The account will be a fund to benefit Baby Cameron.
Rest in peace, my friend.
John W. Parks IV, 11-6-12
In Memoriam: Fred Begun
Fred Begun, who served as principal timpanist of the National Symphony Orchestra from 1951 to 1999, died on Sept. 23, 2012. Begun began his tenure with the National Symphony immediately after his graduation from the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied with Saul Goodman. He played under the batons of Barbirolli, Bernstein, Dorati, Fiedler, Fruhbeck de Burgos, Gould, Leinsdorf, Mitchell, Reiner, Rostropovitch, Rudolph, Steinberg, Stokowski, Stravinsky, Walter, and many other conductors. He gave three world-premiere concerto performances for timpani: “Concerto for Five Kettledrums and Orchestra,” written for him by Robert Parris; “Concerto for Five Timpani and Orchestra” by Jorge Samientos; and “Concertante for Timpani and Chamber Orchestra” by Blas Atehortua. Begun was the author of 21 Etudes for Timpani, published by Meredith Music. George Mason University, where Begun taught master classes, dedicated a percussion studio in the de Laski Performing Arts Building to him. In recent years, he maintained a regular Sunday-night gig with a jazz trio.
In Memoriam: Dennis Kain
Dennis Kain, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's longtime principal timpanist, died Sept. 15 after a bout with cancer. A native of NewYork, Kain began his timpani studies with the timpanist of the Staten Island Symphony. He then earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied timpani and percussion with William Street. In addition, he studied with Vic Firth during four summers at Tanglewood and one year at the New England Conservatory. Kain was a percussionist with the San Antonio Symphony before joining the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 1966. Kain's illness prevented him from performing in the ensemble for the past few seasons.
In Memoriam: J. Massie Johnson
James Massie Johnson, founding faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) died July 22, 2012. Massie was the Winston-Salem Symphony's principal timpanist from 1966–2006 and a founding faculty member at UNCSA. Prior to his movingto Winston-Salem, he was principal timpanist of the St. Louis Symphony (1960–65) and the Birmingham (now Alabama) Symphony Orchestra in the 1950s. Massie was also a long-time faculty member at the Brevard Music Center.
In Memoriam: Ray Enhoffer
Raymond J. Enhoffer, 64, died on Saturday, June 30,2012. Born in Passaic, New Jersey on August 7, 1947, he studied at Juilliard and then received his Bachelor of Music degree in Percussion in 1973 from the Manhattan School of Music where he studied with PAS Hall of Fame member Fred D. Hinger.
He spent more than 35 years working in the music industry, beginning in the 1970s when he worked for the Hinger Touch-Tone company. Enhoffer also served as the Director of Research and Development for Latin Percussion, Inc. for 23 years. Ray had over 20 domestic and international patents for percussion products manufactured by LP, including the one-handed triangle, and was also instrumental in producing such LP products as LP Jam Blocks, Granite Blocks, Blast Blocks, Salsa Cowbells and Ridge Rider Cowbells. He recently started his own business, Filament Solutions, continuing to develop products for several companies, including Malletech.
Visitation will be held Wednesday, July 4, 2012 from 2:00–4:00 p.m. and 7:00–9:00 p.m. at Allwood Funeral Home, 660 Allwood Rd., Clifton, NJ 07012. Funeral services will be held Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. at Allwood Funeral Home, followed by burial at East Ridgelawn Cemetery. In lieu offlowers please consider a donation to Angels of Animals (P.O. Box 534, Clifton, NJ, 07012 or www.AngelsofAnimals.org).
In Memoriam: Michael Carney
Michael Carney, Head of Percussion Studies at California State University, Long Beach, died on June 14, 2012. Dr. Carney was Director of Percussion Studies at the Bob Cole Conservatory at CSULB for 31 years. He directed the World Percussion Group, Steel Drum Orchestra, and the Drums and Drummers Project. He taught classes in World Music required for all music majors and also open to the entire university.
Michael traveled the world performing, teaching, and studying. His performance expertise ranged from classical to jazz, and included musical instruments and styles from West Africa, the Caribbean, and Brazil. In the summer of 2005, Michael completed his first jazz concert tour of Brazil, performing on vibraphone and steel pan.
He was founder and director of the World Percussion Project, a program that took American professionals, students, and teachers abroad for intensive study of music and culture. The project has taken participants to Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, Bahia, Brazil and Ghana, West Africa. His musical journeys also took him to Spain, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Trinidad, the Philippines, and Thailand.
As a classical percussionist he performed with the North Carolina Symphony, Pacific Symphony, and Long Beach Symphony Orchestra. Carney was featured as a steel pan soloist with several symphony orchestras including the Virginia Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Tulsa Philharmonic, Modesto Symphony, New Mexico Symphony, Wichita Symphony, and Long Beach Symphony Orchestra performing his own compositions.
Carney was born in 1952 in Newark, New York. He earned degrees in Percussion Performance from East Carolina University, the Eastman School of Music, and North Texas State University. He also studied at the International Center for African Music and Dance Ghana, and the Oficina de Investigaçaõ Musical and Rio Gruppo Percussaõ in Brazil.
In Memoriam: Elliot Fine
Percussionist and author Elliot Fine died on May 4, 2012.
Born May 7, 1925, he began his career at age 12 playing inburlesque and dance clubs. During World War II he played with the Army-AirForce Band, and then worked with the house bands of various jazz clubs andballrooms of the Twin Cities, backing such artists as Dizzy Gillespie, CarmenMcRae and Sarah Vaughan.
Beginning in 1951, Fine played as an extra with thepercussion section of the Minneapolis Symphony, and then played full-time withthe orchestra (later known as the Minnesota Orchestra)from 1954–1995. In addition to his percussion section duties, Fine playeddrumset for the orchestra’s pops concerts, backing such artists as BennyGoodman, Judy Garland, Henry Mancini, Doc Severinsen, Sonny and Cher, and manyothers.
Fine co-wrote five drum instruction books with MarvDahlgren, including 4-Way Coordination and Accent on Accents, and also wrotebooks on his own including Set in Motion and Moves & Grooves, some of whichwere published through his own company, Elfin Publishing. His popularpercussion ensemble composition, “Milo’s March,” named for his son, was astaple among school bands in the 1970s. The Minnesota Orchestra also performedit as part of their Young People’s Concert Series.
Fine also taught for many years at the University ofMinnesota and Normandale College.
In Memoriam: Levon Helm
Levon Helm, who played drums and sang with The Band, died on April 19, 2012, after a long battle with cancer. He was 71.
Born in Arkansas, Helm began playing guitar at age 9 and then played drums in his high school band. He dropped out of school in the 11th grade to go on the road with rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins. Helm travelled to Canada with Hawkins, whose band soon included guitarist Robbie Robertson, organ player Garth Hudson, bassist Rick Danko, and pianist Richard Manual. Eventually, those four players and Helm left Hawkins to start their own band, originally called Levon and the Hawks.
In 1965, that band began touring with Bob Dylan, but Helm left after a few shows because Dylan was constantly being booed for going electric. But Helm rejoined the group after they and Dylan settled in Woodstock, NewYork, recording what became known as The Basement Tapes. In 1968, the group, now calling itself The Band, released an album called Music From Big Pink, which many credit with helping to change the direction of popular music away from psychedelia and back towards a more roots-based sound.
The Band released several more albums over the next few years, and also accompanied Dylan on tour and on the album Planet Waves. The Band ended its career with a concert on Thanksgiving of 1976, documented in the album and film The Last Waltz.
Helm turned his talents to acting, appearing in such films as Coal Miner’s Daughter and The Right Stuff before touring with a reunited Band, minus Roberton. In the late 1990s, Helm contracted throat cancer, but he recovered after radiation treatments. He began hosting concerts in his barn at Woodstock, called Midnight Rambles, which featured a wide variety of guest musicians.
His final albums were Dirt Farmer (2007) and Electric Dirt (2009), which both won Grammys, and Ramble at the Ryman, recorded live in 2011.
Helm was probably better known to the general public for hissinging on such Band songs as “The Weight,” “Up on Cripple Creek” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” but he was widely respected by drummers for his loose feel and solid groove that combined deep-pocket backbeats with a sense of swing—a style that never called attention to itself though flashy fills but drove the music with feeling and finesse.
In Memoriam: Phil Kraus (1918–2012)
Percussionist Phil Kraus died January 13, 2012 in Houston, Texas. He was 93.
Born in New York City in 1918, Kraus started studying xylophone at age 8. He won a full scholarship to the Juilliard School at 17. After graduation he worked in a radio band at WNEW and then joined the Army duringWorld War II, where he was recruited to play in the band for Irving Berlin's This is the Army, both on Broadway and in the movie version.
After the war, Kraus became an in-demand studio musician, workingin television, concerts, and recording sessions in New York. He played themarimba riff in Ben E. King's "Spanish Harlem," the guiro on "Stand by Me," and various percussion instruments for such artists as Billie Holliday, Carol King, and Ray Charles. He played with groups led by Quincy Jones, Benny Goodman, and Doc Severinson; was in the bands of such TV shows as The Ernie Kovacs Show, The Perry Como Show, The Jackie Gleason Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, and Howdy Doody; and played on the soundtracks of such movies as Midnight Cowboy, Carrie, and The Godfather.
Kraus recorded a few albums under his own name in the 1950s for the Golden Crest label, including The Percussive Phil Kraus and Conflict, both of which include original compositions by Kraus. He teamed with drummer Bobby Rosengarden for an album on the Time label called Like—Bongos. The two went on to record albums for RCA, Decca, and Project 3 during the 1960s. He worked with Dick Hyman and the Living Percussion on The Beat Goes On. He wrote five instructional books, including the three-volume Modern Mallet Method.
In 1978, Kraus moved to Houston, Texas. He worked as personnel manager for the Houston Symphony, taught percussion at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, and played in the Houston Pops.
In Memoriam: Ralph MacDonald (1944-2011)