William F. Ludwig
by Frederick D. Fairchild
(b. Nenderoth, Germany July 15, 1879; d. July 8,1973)
William F. Ludwig, noted percussion manufacturer, percussionist, and inventor of the balanced-action timpani, began playing drums when his family moved to Chicago in 1887. His career led him to play concerts, operas, dances, shows, and circuses, most notably with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Arthur Pryor’s Band, Chicago Grand Opera and Chicago Civic Grand Opera, and the Chicago Symphony. He experimented with his percussion equipment, invented the first efficient bass drum pedal, and, in 1910, formed the Ludwig & Ludwig company with his brother, Theobald. The increasing work of manufacturing ultimately led him to give up playing, and his company expanded to become the largest percussion manufacturer in the world. He wrote method books, solos, ensemble, and articles. Throughout his life, Ludwig continued to perform in amateur groups, instruct drum and bugle corps, and judge contests.