You know, after working in kitchens for 7+ years, I have found that R.H. Forschner makes a great series of "fibrox"- and rosewood handle knives for everyday use. They are relatively inexpensive (due to their stamped construction), but strong and durable. For more high class (and high priced) forged knives, I like the Japanese knives because of their handling, balance, and edge retention. But I also like German knives for their solid and confidence-inspiring weight and construction, although they do invite fatigue after grueling chopping marathons. The most pain I can remember occurred in my wrist and forearm after catering a 1500 person event, during which I prepared no less than a gazillion mushrooms with a 10" Wusthof chef's knife. That said, for the home cook, fatigue is not a major concern. So, go for what feels right in your hand and for your knife-work style. If at all possible, try out as many knives as you can. Global knives are pretty common high-end knives in the industry, but many kitchens get by (and do quite well) with what's available at your local restaurant supply: Forschner, Dexter Russel, even Next Day Gourmet and the like. The really important investment here is in a good sharpening/whet- stone and honing steel.
But also make sure to find the knife that is right for your needs (and there is no single "all-purpose" knife). Point in case: I had never reached for a santoku knife until 2 years ago when I took on a position as an exclusive vegetable preparation cook in the French restaurant of a large hotel. But from that point on, I've decided that there is no better knife for vegetable preparation (and herb handling) than a good granton edge Santoku in the 7" range. And in this case (a rare one), more expensive specialty Japanese knives (MAC, Shun, and especially Global, for my tastes) are a definite plus. On the opposite side, one should never pay more than 4 bucks for a paring knife, and the best ones for this range are available at your local restaurant supply.
I know I've only covered basic recommendations (ones that, by the way, most people could surmise after only a short internet quest) and only the more obvious brands, but professional knife choice is not a science and, though there are some guidelines, the decision is eventually mostly subjective and based on feel.
If anyone has any further questions about my comment or requested points of clarification, please don't hesitate to post a reply to this comment and I'll answer asap.